Rus­sian at­tack sub de­tected near East Coast

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

Spe­cial to the Wash­ing­ton Times 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 ef­forts.

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 sub­marines.

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 Bay.

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 two weeks ago. 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

“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 de­ploy­ments from Nor­folk, Va.,” Mr. Fisher said in an email.

While the Sierra-2 is com­pa­ra­ble to the U.S. Los An­ge­lesclass 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, Mr. 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 stra-

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.

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 ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

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. 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 te­gic 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 rou­tine.

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 hard­erto-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, Texas Repub­li­can, 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.”

Bill Gertz’s ar­ti­cles for The Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con web­site can be found at Times247.com and in The Wash­ing­ton Times Na­tional Weekly.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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