Opener

As part of the Russian Defence Ministry Board in Moscow, Russian defence minister Shoigu said on 21 April that “the frigates will be the main combat ships of the Navy.”

The Russian navy commander, Adm Vladimir Korolev, in an interview with “Krasnaya Zvezda” outlined the scale of the presence of the Russian fleet on the world’s oceans.

The US Navy and others in West Pacific

First, let’s just put to bed the rumours of 3 US aircraft carriers going to turn up soon off of North Korea. Vice-President Pence was onboard the “USS R Reagan” at its home port in Japan.

 

 

In an earlier Brief I wrote about the probability of Ohio-class submarines being in the region, well…. The Ohio-class US nuclear submarine “USS Michigan” (SSBN 727) officially arrived in Busan, South Korea on 24 April.

Significantly, it is designed for special operations missions as it has a dry shelter module on deck.

(Note – the South Korean MSM did earlier make claims about  US Navy SEALS training for North Korean operations.

More details on the USS Carl Vinson saga was given recently last week.

– (a new take on where’s Wally/Waldo or should that be where does Trump think it is)?  Anyhow, the Kuznetsov curse seemingly also applies to the Carl Vinson, as an F18 crashed into the sea, in the Celebes Sea, the pilot safety ejected & recovered. (Note- was the Vinson on a detour?, since it isn’t the most direct route northward to the Korean Peninsula, but it does avoid passing through some disputed sea areas such as the Spratly Islands).

The Japanese warships, “Ashigara” (DDG-178) and the “Samidare’ have reportedly set sail to join the USS Carl Vinson group.

The US navy issued a press release announcing joint exercises with South Korea and Japan, taking place West & east of the Korean Peninsula, on 25 & 26 April. Ships involved include:

West: destroyers “USS Wayne E. Meyer” (DDG 108) and “ROKN Wang Geon” (DDH 978)

East: destroyers “USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62)” and JMSDF “JS Chokai” (DDG 176)

What kind of maritime exercises are being carried out isn’t specified. Nor does not much else, since there are other warships in the area.

Video on Japanese navy deployment:

 

This was previously reported by the MSM in an oblique manner last week.

This comes on the back of previous reporting of the deployment of the helicopter carrier.

 

The Varyag in Manila

Having left South Korea, the “Varyag” is continuing on a tour in the Asia-Pacific region and arrived in Manila on a goodwill visit:

Videos here

And here

 

President Rodrigo Duterte visited the “Varyag” in Manila on 21 April, where he is reported to have said:”The Russians are with me. So I shall not be afraid.”

 

According to Zvevda TV, he also said that he has asked Russia to send a submarine (next?).

 

Russian ECM and naval AD systems

Not intended to prolong the subject of Russian ECM, but the West’s media picked up on a Vesti article and turned their titles into clickbait stuff. Hence the ‘USS Donald Cook’ being on the receiving end of Russian airborne ECM jam, got a widespread airing in the media. Timely, although some call it bragging but also could be considered as a warning hint, given the ongoing geopolitical tensions over the Syrian CW ‘attack’. Here is the article and video on the Russian systems.

Unsurprisingly, UK tabloids pick up on it and turned it into….”Russia has claimed it can wipe out the whole of the US Navy at the flick of a switch…” WHOLE? Then there is the Fox News “copy & paste”, except for 1 word….. ‘bomb’. ?? (The word wasn’t even used in the Vesti article).

 

Not to say Russian ECM troops have been practising in Syria, judging from the article. Note “by hacking into their systems”,  hacking is in vogue and apparently can be applied liberally at will.

Development of specific systems were being tested out during naval exercises by the Baltic Fleet.  A  Kuznetsk-class missile boat launched target missiles to enable the frigate “Admiral Makarov” to test the air defence system Shtil-1.

 

In other news –

  1. Indian Navy in the Mediterranean

Αn Indian Navy naval group, with the destroyer “Mumbai”, frigates Tarkash” & Trishul” and oiler “Aditya”, visited Crete last week. The group arrived in Toulon, France this week.

Now this might seem irrelevant news, but please take note. If a group of Russian ships go to sea, it is generally seen by the West as something sinister and requires heaps of scaremongering by the MSM.

 

  1. Chinese Navy

68th anniversary of the Chinese navy in video:

 

  1. aircraft carrier

The launch of China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, Type 001A, is imminent. The dry dock was fully flooded on 23 April.

 

Excellent video showing the fast modular construction of the carrier over the last 3 years.

  1. Deployment of naval group

On 23rd April, 3 warships left Shanghai for a 180-day global deployment, to visit over 20 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa & Oceania. The fleet includes the destroyer DDG-150 “Changchun” and FFG 532 “Jingzhou” & supply ship “Chaohu”.

 

Piracy in Africa

Commander Jacqui Sheriff, Spokesperson for the European Naval Force (EU NAVFOR), calls for renewed security partnership to defeat piracy in the Horn of Africa. PS the article below outlines the contribution of the Chinese Navy in the area.

 

Not strictly naval but worth highlighting, this video on Africa, since it sets the context, of which in a sense also affects/ underpins the problem of piracy.

Video :

 

NATO in the Black Sea

The UK’s Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyer HMS Daring (D32) was seen heading northbound on the Bosphorus earlier this week, en-Route to exercises with the Romanian Navy.

 

Russian navy

The construction of one of the 2 Ice Patrols, Project 23550, “Ivan Pananin” started on the 19 April. This is an exciting new development for the Russian Navy and will help to underpin the Arctic military presence. It will also allow civilian icebreakers to be freed up, for more cargo ship transits along the Northern Sea Route. In the words of the Russian navy commander, this type of ship will provide the “ability of the Russian Navy to eliminate any threats on this important strategic direction.”

The commander-in-chief says Russia’s Navy hopes to get 40 combat and support ships this year, compared to in 2016 with two new submarines and 24 logistic ships received.

A follow-up on last’s week Brief on the issue of import substitution for the Russian Navy.  This week, President Putin visited the company NPO “Saturn”, (part of UEC) & has commissioned an assembly & testing facility for the development of domestically-produced marine Gas Turbines, to meet the needs of the Russian navy, which set for serial production in 2018. In Russian

In English  

If this is successful, a huge hurdle will have been overcome in future naval construction projects.

In other news, more minesweepers are expected for the Russian navy:

 

The 10th Project 21631 Buyan-M corvette has been laid down at Zelenodolsk Shipyard.

This type of corvette is dedicated river-green water warship, specifically tasked with the protection of Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ).

Meanwhile trials of the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov”,  were successfully carried out, in particular, firing of cruise missiles “Caliber” and also “Onyx“. in Russian

Likewise, the “Admiral Grigorovich” has completed exercises off the coast of Syria.

This 1 exercise sure did attract numerous flights by US Navy P-8A Poseidon planes out from Italy.

 

Meanwhile in the Channel

Further to the Channel transit, the Royal Navy released some more photos of the 2 Russian corvettes. Note last sentence in tweet- my reply is “Put a sock in it”!

Strange? No “man-marking” of Russian naval ship statement by U.K. MOD? The RN escorted a Ropucha-class landing ship ” Korolev”, going back home, through the Channel. Hence no fuss.

 

Part 2 – Topic 2: Russian Navy Submarines

Russia is in the middle of a broad & comprehensive modernization program, bringing in a new era of high-technology components. Last week I presented aspects of surface ships operations and issues with shipyard constructions. In this issue I will outline the submarine fleet. Like the surface ships, the post Soviet submarine service became atrophied and only started again in the mid 2000s, with 2008 as a watershed moment for increased naval activities. Similarly, the Russian navy has recently embarked on a vigorous revival of its submarine force, with new builds, as well as modernisation and bringing out mothballed submarines for conversion. Import substitutions due to the Ukraine & West sanctions are also being carried out, despite legal wrangling over contractual amendments as a result of import substitutions impacting on the initial orders. Thus similar problems are being faced during construction of submarines as well as  in building surface ships.

“Last year, we operated at a level not seen in the post-Soviet era in terms of hours spent underway,” the chief of the Russian Navy Adm. Vladimir Korolev  recently stated and added that “The Russian submarine fleet last year spent more than 3,000 days at sea.”

This is an excellent figure.” Enough hours for the US Admiral Howard to complain that it is  “at least as high as Cold War”. Surely the real point to be made, what is the comparison of the US sub operations against Russian navy operations in the last decade compared to the stages of the Cold War?

 

Overview of current Russian navy submarine fleet

11 Operational SSBNs Multi/ attack SSN Diesel powered Other roles
6 Delta IV (Project 667BRDM) Delfin  2 Project 885 Yasen 6 Varshavyanka (Project 636.3). Kilo-class 1 Akula-class as missile test bed.
2 Kalmar Delta III (Project 667BRD) 6 Project 949A Antey 22 Original Kilo (Project 877), 1 Special ops/ research Project 09852 being built.
3 Borei (Project 955)

 

I am not going into the ‘ins and outs” of nuclear warhead capacity.

 

Example of new builds

This year has seen the start of another phase of Project 636.3, Varshavyanka -class construction, 6 are earmarked  for the Pacific fleet. The first two submarines are the “Volkhov” and “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky”.

The second example is Project 885M (08850) Yasen-class “Kazan” was recently launched.

This particular class of submarines heralds a new era, for Russian submarine operations, because it forms the basis for an extensive multipurpose role.

For a long time, the ballistic missile submarines have taken the limelight. But now the focus is also shifting back to a new generation of multipurpose / attack submarines, which has made the US navy pay more attention. The first, “Severodvinsk” was laid down in 1993, amid the post Soviet Union woes. As such, it did not get completed until 2010. The “Kazan” does differ from the first, thus it has an ‘M’ designation. The major difference is in the use of high-technology electronics & power plant, with increased systems automation, which meant a reduction in crew size, of 90.  (Also a first, the location of torpedo tube aft of the sail, to allow for sonar equipment in the bow). Kalibr and Oniks missiles are also carried.

NB – Love the quote at the end by the US Rear Admiral Rear Dave Johnson about this class of submarine.

 

Example of refit

The Oscar II-class nuclear attack submarine Orel will be back in service with the Russian navy in April”.

Upgrades & new builds of Kilo/Varshavyanka -class submarines

Lastly, the newer improved diesel-powered Kilo-class have been the mainstay of the Russian Navy for quite a few years. The most significant aspect of the new-build program are the 5th generation diesel-electric submarines, the Varshavyanka Class. This class has advanced stealth technology,  longer combat range than the original Kilo-class. Moreover, it can strike land, surface and underwater targets.

The latest, Kalibr-carrying submarines, from the Black Sea Fleet, have participated in the Syrian conflict, in particular, the “Rostov-on-Don” in December 2016. Their presence in the eastern Med evidently warranted a number of US Navy Poseidon flights out of Sicily over the last couple of years.

Lately, Kilo-class, project 877, ” Ust-Bolsheretsk”(B-494), has completed repairs at Dalzavod and returns to the Pacific Fleet.

 

Area of operations

An major headache for NATO is the resurgence of submarine operations in an area known as the GIUK Gap. Well-known during the Cold War as a submarine ‘stomping ground’ for both sides, some hiding from detection and others trying to detect.  The importance of this area is well-established within the Bastion Doctrine. Russian navy submarine operations are not limited to the North Atlantic, although, the only time that the West MSM puts together an article, is because of presumed presence of Russian submarines in and around its waters.

 

The Bastion Doctrine and the Russian Arctic

During the Cold War, the US and NATO put into place SOSUS, an underwater hydro-acoustic surveillance system, around the world including the Gap. (Outlined in Naval Brief 02/Dec 2016)

Likewise, only now is Russia currently working on a new multi-sensor submarine detection network called “Garmoniya”.

It is broadly similar to the US Navy’s well-known SOSUS system but also is capable of detecting low-flying aircraft. Unlike the US  SOSUS, it is uniquely geared towards defence in depth of Russia itself.   It is more than likely that the two new Arctic bases, the ‘clover’ Kotelny base and the ‘Shamrock’ Nagurskoye Base on Franz Josef Land, will somehow have a part in the deployment of this system.  It would mean that the US & NATO will themselves have to run the gauntlet through chunks of the Arctic. Personally, it will ensure a long overdue level playing field for all submarine forces in the northern hemisphere.

 

Example of conversion

Other submarines developed included the special ops Project 09852 ” Belgorod” for use in the Arctic and underwater / seabed research. This is likely to the biggest submarine in the fleet as well as the most secretive,(despite the image revelation hiccup on TV back in 2015). Bigger dimensions than an Akula class with 182m in length will make the world’s largest submarine. In Russian

The “Belgorod” is designed to carry deep-water self-contained manned and unmanned rescue submersibles. Although officially designated as a research vessel in remote areas, as well as capable of search & rescue missions, it is the most likely candidate for the underwater deployment of Garmoniya’s components, the robotized self-contained seabed sonars, since it needs to set up covertly underwater in precisely, remote areas of the Arctic.  Comprehensive information on this can be found at this site

 

Examples of innovation

In another interesting development, “Surrogat”, a mini submarine drone is being specially designed to replicate real enemy submarines for training purposes.

Silent running of Russian subs, using special hull coatings, might just make the US/NATO duo pull their hair out.

The special rubber coating, is said to camouflage the submarines from them from acoustic equipment, by blending the submarine into general background noise of the sea.

 

Finally

On the theme of submarines. It could not be an April Fool’s joke, could it? An Akula / typhoon Class “Dmitriy Donskoy” going to the Baltic this summer?

And a Turkish boat Coastguard becoming almost a submarine accidentally,(poor watchkeeping- it’s good to behind, check your stern).

 

Update by Scott

On Tuesday, President Putin visited the manufacturer of domestic shipborne gas turbine engines.

As reported in  December, Russian gas turbine engines produced by “Saturn”, designed to replace Ukrainian counterparts. First, new engines will be manufactured for the first project 22350 frigates, then corvettes, ships with dynamic principle of support, and by mid-2018, for the frigates of the project 1135.

Apr 25, 2017 by Ruptly TV

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited engine manufacturer NPO Saturn in Rybinsk on Tuesday, to inaugurate the factory’s production of domestic gas turbine engines for ships. The production line is due to replace imports previously purchased from Ukraine.

During his visit, the leader personally gave the command for work to begin on the production line from the control room.

Putin emphasised it as an industrial turning point saying,, “the push was so serious, as you know in 2014, when some of our partners refused to supply the relevant equipment and we at the time, made a decision: we will not do something average, but we will work out our own new products, our new solutions, our new machines.”

SOT, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia (Russian): “The push was so serious, as you know in 2014, when some of our partners refused to supply the relevant equipment and we, at the time, made a decision: we will not do something average, but we will work out our own new products, our new solutions, our new machines, and we even went to shift the programme of rearmament of the Russian fleet to the right, while waiting for your machine. And here it is created, I want to thank you for this and congratulate you with a wonderful result.”

 

 

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world