(BICOM) A Royal Navy warship arrived this week in the northern Israeli port of Haifa, following joint exercises with their Israeli counterparts.

The HMS Bulwark is part of the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group and has been patrolling the eastern Mediterranean for several months. The visit to Haifa comes just before the second largest ship in the Royal Navy’s fleet returns home.

A Royal Navy statement said that the docking in Haifa “demonstrates the growing relationship between the Royal Navy and the Israeli Navy and the desire to continue to develop that interaction”.

Capt. James Parkin, the commander of the Bulwark said: “We have Israel Navy colleagues on board right now, learning, getting presentations, and exchanging ideas about operations. We have a great relationship with the Israel Navy.”

He added: “We’ve operated with several Israel Navy ships, practicing communications and maneuvering.”

David Quarrey, UK Ambassador to Israel said that the docking is “a symbol of the growing partnership in defence and security between Israel and the UK, at a time that the two countries face very severe challenges. We need to be working together, and this ship symbolises just that.”.

Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who visited the ship yesterday, said: “This visit is a sign of the deep cooperation between the UK and Israel. We enjoy very good cooperation on many levels, including intelligence, and now of course, between our navies. I think that especially today, with what is happening around us in the Middle East, this is a very important visit.”

The crew of nearly 600 men and women on the Bulwark will spend some brief time touring Jerusalem and other parts of Israel before returning to Britain. They will also take part in a challenge rugby match against an Israeli team.

Source: BICOM