Crews of the Russian Baltic Fleet marine aviation helicopters stopped and destroyed a submarine of the maneuver enemy during the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) strategic drills, the fleet’s spokesman, Roman Martov, said on Sunday.
“A maneuver enemy submarine was detected in the area of sea routes. Ka-27PL marine aviation helicopters were sent to the designated area. The crews used radar and hydro-acoustic tools to detect and chase the submarine,” he said, adding that once spotted the submarine was destroyed with the use of air bombs.
Earlier in the day, the Ka-27PL helicopters were used to back Baltic Fleet warships which destroyed another submarine of the maneuver enemy.
A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 began in Russia and Belarus on September 14. The drills are held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships.
The main purpose of the exercise is to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.
Russia’s Northern Fleet has begun an exercise with ten diesel and nuclear-powered submarines and twenty surface ships taking part.
“At different stages of the exercise more than 20 naval vessels, up to ten nuclear-powered and diesel submarines, 20 logistic ships and up to 30 aircraft will participate. In different episodes of the exercise more than 5,000 officers and men of the Northern Fleet and more than 300 pieces of weapons and military equipment will be involved,” the fleet’s service said in a news release.
Coastal missile and artillery units, a ground corps, coastal forces, an air force and air defense army and logistic units will take part.
The exercise is the main operative and combat training event for the Northern Fleet in 2017.
Currently, the preparatory phase of the exercise is in progress. The fleet’s forces are practicing alert measures and readying their command centers and forces for coping with the tasks to be set during exercise in the Barents Sea, which will last several days.
MURMANSK, September 4. /TASS/. Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine The Dmitry Donskoy, the largest in the world, has returned to the Northern Fleet’s base at Severomorsk, the Northern Fleet’s press-service said on Monday.
“The submarine’s crew has been away from the base for more than three months. It participated in the main naval parade on the occasion of the Russian Navy Day in Kronshtadt and performed combat training tasks in the Barents Sea,” the Northern Fleet said.
In Severodvinsk, the submarine was welcomed by Rear Admiral Arkady Romanov, its former commander. He heard a report from the submarine’s current commander, Captain 1st Class Oleg Tsybin, on the successful completion of the tasks and return to base, congratulated the crew and thanked the sailors for their service.
The heavy nuclear-powered submarine The Dmitry Donskoy is the world’s largest operational submarine. It is 170 meters long and 23 meters wide. Its draught in the surface position is about 11 meters and submerged displacement, 50,000 tonnes.
In June 2017 the submarine made its first surface voyage from Severomorsk to Kronshtadt through the Baltic straits and the Gulf of Finland.
The Russian Navy’s final two diesel-electric submarines have reached the Mediterranean Sea en route to their permanent homeport in the Black Sea, Russian defense ministry announced on August 28.
Project 636.3 (NATO reporting name: improved Kilo-class) submarines Kolpino and Veliky Novgorod got underway this month from Saint Petersburg on the Baltic Sea where they were built by Admiralty Shipyards.
On August 16, the submarines were escorted by NATO vessels as they traveled through the North Sea while surfaced.
They are accompanied by Baltic Fleet tug SB-921 on their way to the Black Sea fleet where they will round off the Russian Navy’s goal of operating six improved Kilo-class submarines in the Black Sea.
Prior to entering the Black Sea, the submarines are likely to spend some time in the Mediterranean taking part in Russian operations in Syria, similarly to what their predecessor Krasnodar did a month ago before docking in Sevastopol.
Veliky Novgorod was launched on March 18 and commissioned into service on October 26, 2016. Kolpino was launched in May 2016 and commissioned on November 24, 2016.
Kilo-class submarines are armed with 18 torpedoes and eight surface-to-air missiles. The vessels can accommodate a crew of 52 submariners and can stay at sea for 45 days.
They displace 4,000 tonnes when submerged and 2,000 on the surface and reach speeds of over 17 knots.
MURMANSK, August 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Northern Fleet has received a new Grachonok-class counter sabotage boat, the Fleet’s press service said in a statement. According to the press service, the boat has been handed over to the counter sabotage unit deployed to the main base of the Northern Fleet’s submarine forces in Gadzhiyevo, located in the Murmansk region.
“The flag-raising ceremony on the boat was held on the sidelines of the Army-2017 International Military Forum,” the statement adds.
Now the number of the Grachonok-class counter sabotage boats assigned to the Northern Fleet has grown to three. The first one of them, named “Yunarmeyets Zapolyarya,” participated in the country’s main naval parade in the city of St. Petersburg.
The Grachonok-class counter sabotage boats have been developed by the Vympel Design Bureau and built at the Vympel shipyard in Rybinsk in the Yaroslavl Region, central Russia. They are designed to protect water areas and fight sabotage and terrorist groups in coastal waters. The Project 21980 counter sabotage boats are armed with large-caliber machine guns, depth charges and man-portable air defense missile systems.
The boat’s radio electronic equipment is capable of searching for moving underwater targets, including small ones, such as divers.
USS Indianapolis Naval researchers announced Saturday that they have found the wreckage of the lost World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after the vessel sank in minutes after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.
The ship was found almost 31/2 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea, said a tweet from Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who led a team of civilian researchers that made the discovery.
Historians and architects from the Naval History and Heritage Command in the District had joined forces with Allen last year to revisit the tragedy.
The ship sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war’s final days. It took the Navy four days to realize that the vessel was missing.
About 800 of the crew’s 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank. But almost 600 of them died over the next four to five days from exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Nineteen crew members are alive today, the Navy command said in a news release.
The Indianapolis had just completed a top-secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian. The bomb was later dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
In a statement on its website, the command called the shipwreck a “significant discovery,” considering the depth of the water.
“While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said in a statement. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found.
The cruiser’s captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was among those who survived, but he was eventually court-martialed and convicted of losing control of the vessel. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed. Years later, under pressure from survivors to clear his name, McVay was posthumously exonerated by Congress and President Bill Clinton.
The shipwreck’s location had eluded researchers for decades.
The coordinates keyed out in an S.O.S. signal were forgotten by surviving radio operators and were not received by Navy ships or shore stations, the Navy command said. The ship’s mission records and logs were lost in the wreck.
Researchers got a break last year, however, when Richard Hulver, a historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of the Indianapolis hours before it was sunk. The position was west of where it was presumed to be lying.
The team was able to develop a new estimated position, although it still covered 600 square miles of open ocean.
The ship is an official war grave, which means it is protected by law from disturbances. Naval archaeologists will prepare to tour the site and see what data they can retrieve. No recovery efforts are planned.
Hulver and Robert Neyland, the command’s underwater archaeology branch head, wrote on the website that “there remains a lot we can learn.”
“From the sinking to the battle damage and site formation processes, we hope to gain a better understanding about the wreck site and how we can better protect USS Indianapolis to honor the service of the ship and crew.”
Russia’s Navy will receive another two of the project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class submarines by the end of 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“Two project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines named Petropavlovsk-Kanchatsky and Volkhov will be added to the Russian navy by the end of 2020, provided that their in-plant and state tests go well,” the statement reads. The ministry pointed out that the two submarines had been laid down in Russia’s St. Petersburg before the Navy Day.
Project 636.6 Varshavyanka is the third-generation diesel-electric submarine with a maximum surface speed of 20 knots. These submarines are capable of submerging to a depth of 300 meters, the period of their autonomous navigation is 45 days. The crew comprises 52 men.
The Project 636 submarines are considered to be the quietest of the Russian-made submarines, this being the reason why NATO gave them the reporting name of ‘Black Holes’. These submarines are equipped with modern radar systems, communications tools, hydroacoustic stations, 533 mm torpedo launchers and the Kalibr cruise missiles.
In the past several years, Russia’s Navy has already received six Project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class submarines, which were added to the Black Sea Fleet.
In May and June 2017, a Varshavyanka-class submarine named Krasnodar, traveling in the Mediterranean Sea, fired the Kalibr cruise missiles on the ground facilities of the Islamic State terrorist Group (outlawed in Russia), located in Syria.
In March 2017, Russia’s new Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine Kazan launched at the northern port city of Severodvinsk. Perhaps the quietest Russian submarine ever, the event was further evidence the Kremlin can still build capable and lethal subs capable of a variety of missions, including cruise-missile attack.
But it won’t be enough. The Russian navy — already badly depleted since the collapse of the Soviet Union — can’t quickly replace most of its existing nuclear submarine fleet, which is approaching the end of its collective lifespan. The outcome will likely mean a shrinking of the Russian nuclear submarine force in the years ahead.
By 2030, the bulk of Russia’s nuclear-powered attack and cruise-missile submarines will be in their mid-thirties at least — with some pushing into their forties. For perspective, the three oldest active American attack submarines, the Los Angeles-class USS Dallas, Bremerton and Jacksonville, are all 36 years old and waiting to be decommissioned during the next three years.
Submarines wear out in old age, particularly due to hull corrosion. Another serious concern is corrosion affecting components inside the nuclear reactor compartments, but data surrounding this subject are tightly guarded secrets among the world’s navies.
More to the point, naval vessels staying in service during old age require more maintenance and longer rest periods. Given that only around half of Russia’s submarine force — a charitable estimate — can be at sea at any given time, a force made up of mostly old boats will strain operational readiness.
The Kremlin’s relatively new multi-role Yasen class, of which two — the Severodvinsk and Kazan — launched in 2010 and 2017 respectively, cannot make up for the future retirements of Russia’s 11 Akulas, three Sierras, four Victor III attackers and eight Oscar II cruise missile subs, which are all getting long in the tooth.
The youngest Akula class, Gepard, entered service in 2000. Most date to the early 1990s.
The Yasen is a late-Soviet design with seven planned submarines, with the last one planned to enter service in 2023. This is again being generous given the Yasen class’ enormous expense, which is twice as high as one of Russia’s new ballistic missile subs.
While Russia could attempt to keep its Cold War-era subs going as long as possible, “given the obvious risk of rising costs, Russia will be able to have no more than 50 percent of the current number of nuclear submarines [by 2030],” the Russian military blog BMPD warned in a particularly grim assessment.
Russia’s ballistic missile submarines will be in somewhat better shape in 2030. Few countries possess “boomers” capable of dumping nuclear warheads into enemy cities — the United States, India, China, France, the United Kingdom and North Korea. Russia currently has 13, including three from the new Borey class, with up to five more on the way.
But by 2030, Russia’s three Delta III, six Delta IV-class boomers and its one Typhoon class will all be at least 40 years old if they remain in service. Nevertheless, even if Russia scrapped these boats and only relied on its newer Boreys, no country can likely match them in numbers except for the United States, China and possibly India.
Russia could attempt to further make up the gap in attack- and cruise-missile-submarines with its tentatively-titled Project Husky, which is still in the design phase.
The Husky could come in three variants for attack missions, cruise-missile strike — or SSGN — and ballistic missile roles. Dedicated SSGNs are particularly important for Russia, which has long based its naval doctrine around long-range missile attacks on American carrier groups. Russian anti-ship cruise missiles are especially fearsome.
But the most optimistic estimates have Russia possessing a mere three Huskies by 2030 if construction of the first of the class begins in the early 2020s — and that’s if the Russian navy keeps up ordering one every two years with a four-and-a-half year build period.
While the Yasens probably have the ability to launch cruise missiles as well, that would still leave Russia with around 10 modern nuclear-powered SSNs and dedicated SSGNs alongside two-dozen boats in their thirties and forties facing looming retirement.
The diesel-electric fleet isn’t in much better shape, with most of Russia’s 17 Kilo-class hunter-killers dating to the early 1990s. Although more advanced versions, the Project 636 Varshavyanka and the Lada class, have been commissioned at a brisker pace than the nuclear-powered Yasens.
The nation’s second highest military officer is worried about the defense industry’s ability to deliver the critical components of the nuclear deterrent modernization on time, specifically warning that the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) are scheduled to sail until “the absolute end of their service life.”
“There is no slack in our ability to deliver the Columbia class” submarines that are to replace the Ohio-class SSBNs, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Aug. 3.
“If we don’t replace the Ohio class with Columbia, we won’t have a sea-based deterrent,” Selva told a Mitchell Institute breakfast on nuclear deterrence.
The Navy already has extended the service life of the 14 Ohio subs to 40 years, and plans to begin building the first of 12 Columbia-class boomers by 2021 and have it in service by 2029. But Navy officials have warned that if the Ohios are not replaced on time, their hulls may be unable to take the pressure of operating at their normal depth.
A May report by the Congressional Research Service projected that even if the first Columbia is operational in 2029, the SSBN fleet will have dropped to 12 because the three oldest Ohio-class boats will have been decommissioned. The long-range plan for 12 Columbia SSBNs is based on the expectation that the new submarines will not have to be taken out of service for maintenance and upgrades as often, allowing 10 operational boomers at all times.
The nuclear deterrent Triad includes an air leg, currently consisting of B-52s, some of which are nearly 50 years old, and the 19 newer B-2s; and a ground-based leg of 400 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The Air Force is pushing development of the B-21 Raider to replace the B-52s and a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman missiles.
Selva said there was “no alternative” to replacing the current nuclear deterrent Triad because “nuclear weapons pose the only existential threat to the United States.” That is why, maintaining and modernizing the Triad is “the most important mission of the Defense Department,” he said.
Selva emphasized that the program was to replace, not modernize, the Triad. He noted that an essential part of the replacement program was the nuclear command and control network, which has components that include 1950s vacuum tubes.
In describing the threat that the nuclear deterrent Triad must counter, Selva listed Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, noting that Iran is the only one that does not have nuclear weapons, which he attributed to the multinational agreement that has frozen Tehran’s program.
Asked about the threat from North Korea, which has staged multiple tests of nuclear devices with increasing power, and in July conducted two tests of ballistic missiles that may have the range to hit the United States, Selva said “before we can assume that North Korea has the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon,” it would have to demonstrate four capabilities.
The Pentagon believes North Korea has a missile with adequate range, does not believe it has a missile with the guidance, control and stability to deliver a warhead without breaking up; does not know if it has a re-entry vehicle that can survive the heat and pressure; and does not know if it has a warhead that can survive re-entry.
Independent analysts have reported that in the last ICBM test, which appeared to have the range to hit the United States, the re-entry vehicle apparently broke up before reaching the surface.
But, Selva added, he could not rule out North Korea correcting those problems because people can learn “some interesting things if they are willing to fail.” And North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “is willing to fail.”
A new plan to build more attack submarines could be supported by the U.S. industrial base with careful planning and sufficient funding, a U.S. Navy report to Congress has concluded.
Titled “The Submarine Industrial Base and the Viability of Producing Additional Attack Submarines Beyond the Fiscal Year 2017 Shipbuilding Plan in the 2017-2030 Timeframe”, the report was delivered to Congress in early July.
The U.S. Navy did the study in order to evaluate whether the two major shipbuilders – Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics-Electric Boats – could continue building two Virginia-class even after the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program starts construction.
Current plans would see the shipbuilders drop their Virginia-class submarine from two to one boat a year once the Columbia program starts in the 2020s.
However, maintaining the two-a-year building pace would allow the navy to receive additional seven Virginia boats and increase the total number of boats built between 2017 and 1030 to 29 instead of 22.
While the navy assessed the industrial base was theoretically capable of maintaining this construction tempo, it did note that adequate and timely funding would be needed to allow the two major shipbuilders to prepare facilities, workforce and the supplier base for the increased workload.
The increased submarine production would allow the navy to achieve the number of 66 attack submarines in service – as outlined in the navy’s 2016 force structure assessment – in fiscal year 2048.
US Navy Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell praised HMS Queen Elizabeth saying the vessel would ease stress on the US fleet.
Speaking from the bridge of the USS George H.W. Bush, the Read Admiral was quoted in Portsmouth today:
“We have been fighting essentially since 1991 with Desert Storm and Desert Shield. So both the metal side of that – our hardware as well as our software, our human beings – have been worn out over the last decade.
To be able to bring Queen Elizabeth as well as the Prince of Wales in is going to be an incredible game-changer for us because now we can share some of that responsibility.
This is a world game-changer, it’s a good for the “good guys” and it’s not too good for the bad guys.”
The USS George H.W. Bush has UK personnel on board as part of the UK-US Long Lead Specialist Skills Programme which the Royal Navy say qualifies them in US carrier operations in preparation for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Exercise Saxon Warrior will take place between the 1st and 10th of August and will be delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff from Faslane.
Commodore Andrew Benton, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group said:
“Exercise Saxon Warrior is a large, multinational joint exercise which involves fifteen warships from five different nations, submarines, over 100 aircraft and about 9,000 personnel,” said Cdre Betton.
The UK contribution will be two Type 23 frigates supporting the US aircraft carrier, a Royal Navy submarine, the Carrier Strike Group UK battle staff, fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft operating from ashore, and then the central training staff who will based in Faslane in Scotland.”
Colonel Phil Kelly, Royal Marines is the COMUKCSG Strike Commander said:
“This exercise is a great demonstration of the UK’s relationship with the United States who are helping us in getting back our carrier strike capability and making a success of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier programme.”
According to the Royal Navy, the Type 23 frigates taking part in Saxon Warrior will be HMS Iron Duke and HMS Westminster who will be joined by Royal Fleet Auxiliary fast fleet tanker Wave Ruler.
As we reported in January, Saxon Warrior is an exercise designed to develop ‘theatre-specific combat skills’ as well as enhance cooperation between multi-national forces.
Led by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), Saxon Warrior presents a ‘myriad of challenges to the multi-national and multi-platform force by creating a diverse and unpredictable war environment based on fictional geo-political and military scenarios’.
Cmdr Eric Retz, US Navy Carrier Strike Group 2’s operations officer, said of the exercise:
“Saxon Warrior will test every aspect of our war-fighting capabilities-from air wing strikes to the self-defence of the carrier.
The beauty of operating with coalition partners is that we practice with them, learn their strengths, and then blend those strengths together to make the most potent coalition force possible.”