Thursday, November 8, 2012

Russian Sub Skirts U.S. Coast

Russian Sub Skirts Coast
Posted By Bill Gertz On November 5, 2012 (5:05 pm)
A Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine cruised within 200 miles of
the East Coast recently in the latest sign Russia is continuing to
flex its naval and aerial power against the United States, defense
officials said.

The submarine was identified by its NATO designation as a Russian
Seirra-2 class submarine believed to be based with Russia's Northern
Fleet. It was the first time that class of Russian submarine had been
detected near a U.S. coast, said officials who spoke on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitive nature of anti-submarine warfare

One defense official said the submarine was believed to have been
conducting anti-submarine warfare efforts against U.S. ballistic and
cruise missile submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia.

A second official said the submarine did not sail close to Kings Bay
and also did not threaten a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group that
was conducting exercises in the eastern Atlantic.

Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, north of Jacksonville, Fla., is
homeport for two guided missile submarines and six nuclear missile
submarines. The submarines are known to be a target of Russian attack

Meanwhile, the officials also said that a Russian electronic
intelligence-gathering vessel was granted safe harbor in the
commercial port of Jacksonville, Fla., within listening range of Kings

The Russian AGI ship, or Auxiliary-General Intelligence, was allowed
to stay in the port to avoid the superstorm that battered the U.S.
East Coast last week. A Jacksonville Port Authority spokeswoman had no
immediate comment on the Russian AGI at the port.

"A Russian AGI and an SSN in the same geographic area as one of the
largest U.S. ballistic missile submarine bases—Kings Bay—is
reminiscent of Cold War activities of the Soviet navy tracking the
movements of our SSBN's," said a third U.S. official, referring to the
designation for ballistic missile submarines, SSBN.

"While I can't talk about how we detected it, I can tell you that
things worked the way they were supposed to," the second official
said, stating that the Russian submarine "poses no threat whatsoever."

According to naval analysts, the Russian attack submarine is outfitted
with SS-N-21 anti-submarine warfare missiles, as well as SS-N-16
anti-submarine warfare missiles. It also is equipped with torpedoes.

The U.S. Navy deploys a series of underwater sonar sensors set up at
strategic locations near the United States that detected the submarine
sometime late last month.

The submarine is currently believed to be in international waters
several hundred miles from the United States.

The official said the deployment appeared to be part of efforts by the
Russian navy to re-establish its blue-water naval power projection

Naval analyst Miles Yu, writing in the newsletter Geostrategy Direct,
stated that Russia announced in February it is stepping up submarine
patrols in strategic waters around the world in a throwback to the
Soviet period.

"On June 1 or a bit later we will resume constant patrolling of the
world's oceans by strategic nuclear submarines," Russian Navy
Commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky was quoted as saying Feb. 3.

During the Cold War, Moscow's submarine forces carried out hundreds of
submarine patrols annually to maintain its first- and second-strike
nuclear capabilities. By 1984, the Soviet Union was declining but its
naval forces conducted 230 submarine patrols. Today the number is
fewer than 10 patrols.

Richard Fisher, a military analyst with the International Assessment
and Strategy Center, said Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic
have been reduced but remain "regular."

"As was their primary mission during the Cold War, Russian SSNs
[nuclear attack submarines] would likely be trying to track U.S.
nuclear missile submarines deploying from Kings Bay, Ga., and to
monitor U.S. naval deployments from Norfolk, Va.," Fisher said in an

While the Sierra-2 is comparable to the U.S. Los Angeles-class attack
submarine, Russia is building a new class of attack submarines that
are said to be comparable to the latest U.S. Virginia-class
submarines, Fisher said.

The submarine deployment followed stepped-up Russian nuclear bomber
activity near U.S. borders last summer, including the transit of two
Bear-H strategic bombers near the Alaska air defense zone during
Russian strategic bomber war games in arctic in late June.

Then on July 4, in an apparent Fourth of July political message, a
Russian Bear-H flew the closest to the U.S. West Coast that a Russian
strategic bomber had flown since the Cold War when such flights were

In both incidents, U.S. military spokesmen sought to downplay the
threat posed by the air incursions, apparently in response to the
Obama administration's conciliatory "reset" policy of seeking closer
ties with Moscow.

U.S. and Canadian interceptor jets were scrambled to meet the Russian
bombers during the flights last summer.

The officials did not provide the name of the Russian submarine.
However, the sole Sierra-2 submarine still deployed with Russia's
Northern Fleet is the nuclear powered attack submarine Pskov that was
first deployed in 1993.

Confirmation of the recent Sierra-2 submarine deployment followed a
report from U.S. national security officials who said a more advanced
and harder-to-detect Russian Akula-class attack submarine had sailed
undetected in the Gulf of Mexico in August.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, in response to
the report first published in the Free Beacon, stated in a letter to
Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) that "based on all of the source
information available to us, a Russian submarine did not enter the
Gulf of Mexico."

Navy spokesmen did not say whether an Akula had been detected
elsewhere in the Atlantic around that time period.

A Navy spokesman said later that the last time an Akula was confirmed
as present near the United States was 2009.

The U.S. is not the only country responding to increased Russian
strategic bomber activity.

Norway's military has detected an increase in Russian strategic bomber
flights near its territory, the most recent being the flight of a Bear
H bomber on Sept. 11 and 12 that was shadowed by NATO jet fighters.

Norwegian Lt. Col. John Espen Lien told the Free Beacon in an email
that the number of Russian bomber flights this year was more than in
the past, with 55 bombers detected.

According to Norwegian military data, Russian aircraft flights near
Norwegian coasts began increasing in July 2007 and increased from 14
flights in 2006 to 88 in 2007. There were 87 in 2008 and 77 in 2009
and a decline to 37 in 2010 and 48 in 2011.

"Most of these strategic flights are … Tupolev TU-95 Bear [bombers],"
he stated. "In 2007 (and partly 2008) we also identified some TU-160
Blackjack. Lately we have also identified some TU-22 Backfire."

Article taken from Washington Free Beacon -
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