by LeDahu

 

Part 1- Brief

Background on naval developments with North Korea  (DPRK) & South Korea, (ROK)

South Korea staged a large-scale land & air exercises last week.

On 29, DPRK carried out a ballistic missile launch test, that lasted for approximately 15mins. It appeared to have failed according to ROK news agency Yonhap. At the same time, (bear in mind that there is no President of ROK at the moment), the US military has started deploying parts of the THAAD anti-missile system into a designated site in South Korea, and this has generated clashes with police.

US Pacific Command said that THAAD missile defense system “will be operational in the coming days”, on a golf course!!!

Would that please President Trump? He said he expects ROK to pay for THAAD, a mere $1 billion worth, which is not going down too well in Seoul.

China has demanded that the THAAD deployment in South Korea be stopped immediately.

On a side note, Pyongyang has apparently threatened to destroy the submarine ‘USS Michigan”. (Refer to Naval Brief 08/17 for full story).

Staying on the subject of submarines, the Los Angeles-class attack submarine

“USS Cheyenne”, (SSN 773), called into Sasebo, Japan, this week.

The US Navy wants more funding & more submarines to counter the threat from North Korea.

Admiral Harris, US Navy Pacific Fleet commander said: “We can bring these forces from all around the Pacific to focus on North Korea if need be. #FightTonight” at a Congress meeting last week.  (Add in this tone and the style of language expressed, it is quite disturbing.)

 

26-27 April – The US “Carl Vinson” carrier group on joint exercises with Japan, first in the  Philippines Sea.

 

Then closer to the Korean Peninsula

 

On the 1st May, Japan dispatched its biggest warship, the helicopter carrier ”  Izumo” to escort a US Navy supply vessel within Japanese waters. This stirred a few more political waves than real ones, as it is a reflection of the new expanded security policies. (A bit over the top??)

The French Navy’s amphibious assault ship ‘Mistral’ also arrived in Japan.  It is at the Sasebo base for the Pacific exercises, as mentioned in Naval Brief 06/17.

A group of US warships called into Hong Kong US 3rd Fleet destroyers called into Hong Kong

A group of Russian navy Pacific Fleet ships encountered the “USS Carl Vinson” group in the Sea of Japan this week. In Russian

The  “Admiral Nevelskoy” is on route to Vladivostok, sailed past the US Navy escorts and the aircraft carrier. The  two destroyers Arleigh Burke class destroyers were the “USS Wayne E. Meyer” and  “USS Michael Murphy”,(DDG-112) along with an ROK warship, “Wang Geon”.

This week, USAF bombers, including 2  B-1 Lancers from Guam, took part in drills with South Korean airforce fighters, as well with the USS Carl Vinson group.

Earlier on the 28 April, the USS “Wayne E Meyer”  (DDG108), along with ROK “Wang Geon”  (978), patrolled together in the Yellow Sea region west of the Korean peninsula this week, while the USS Carl Vinson was with the JMSDF. In short- busy waterways for quite a few navies.

Not naval news. Lastly, Russia has delayed the start of a ferry service between North Korea and Vladivostok.

 

Russian Navy

The sinking of the AGI “Liman”

 

Russian Navy’s, project 861, Moma-class Intelligence gathering ship, (AGI),” Liman” was sunk 17nm north of the Bosporus, after being holed in a collision with a cargo ship, Togo-flagged ” Youzarsif H”, just before 08.41 UTC.

 

It seems that apparently Youzarsif H”  hit Liman since its hull was breached below the waterline in the engine room, (side on). In Russian

This happened in dense fog, prompt response by the Turkish Coastguard enabled all of the crew to be rescued, who were then transferred to a Turkish warship. Some went from a Turkish vessel back onto a Russian ship according to some media sources. The Liman wasn’t scheduled to transit Turkish straits, so it is assumed that it was on a mission or awaiting orders, in the Black Sea, for another “meet & greet” with NATO units. It appears that some of the crew had a couple of hours to destroy, remove & evacuate sensitive materials & equipment before it ultimately sank at 11:48 UTC.

According  to the Russian media, the Russian ship  “Ulus-Star” was nearby to assist the stricken ship, maybe with the equipment and materials, to then go back to Sevastopol, allegedly. So it said openly in the media. However, on the following day, the AIS data showed the “Ulus Star” was at anchorage off the Bosphorus entrance. Maybe another ship did the relay work? The information presented is still confusing. Let’s hope so, since on 29 April, Turkey hastily dispatched a specialist ship northwards, through the Bosphorous. But it’s not known whether it went to the site of the sinking. The newly commissioned “TCG Alemdar”, (A582), is submarine rescue mother ship, and so has the equipment & the expertise to carry out deep sea recovery operations.

This is more to the sinking of the “Liman” then first meets the eye.  The Russian Navy Project 22870, rescue tug ” SB-738″, was quickly deployed to the area within hours. It is also probable that Russian Navy,  large buoy tender/rescue ship Project 141,”KIL-158″ is in the vicinity to assist in booming off the area.

By nightfall, Russia had quickly deployed several underwater search & salvage ships to the scene of the accident. The Russian flagged survey ship “Heather Sea”, (with ROV capability), seemed to have carried out a comprehensive search track not far from where the Liman sunk. (But this might just be the initial survey work for Gazprom’s “Turkish Stream” pipeline, however timing is rather unfortunate).

It remains to be seen whether there will be some salvage/ partial equipment recovery attempt made, (or destruction of equipment), given the ultra-secret nature of onboard electronic & cryptographic hardware equipment. A race was probably underway to secure the rest of equipment before NATO does.  The Russian MoD has said that recovering the Liman is “inexpedient” as ship is very old. In Russian .

A note on AGI, practically all of the Russian fleet is ex-Soviet in origin, they are not purposely built warships with armaments and so military standards of construction. The US Navy dropped using AGIs after both the loss of USS Pueblo and Liberty. It should not be confused with their larger counterparts, such as the well-known “Viktor Leonov”, which is a large intelligence vessel or the Vishnaya-class

The Liman was an naval vessel, tasked with capturing electronic-signals intelligence using Soviet-era and Russian-made sensors, (ELINT). Known in Russian as SSV [Sudno Svyazyy = Communications Vessel], otherwise commonly known as medium-intelligence vessel. There were 3 of this type with the Black Sea Fleet. One of the AGI, the ‘Kildin” is in East Med since 5 February.

These types of ships carry out a variety of roles, in the case of the Liman, it may have been tracking ships and/or ELINT.  They have a wide range of highly-classified equipment onboard, including electronic intelligence and signals intelligence, as well as hydro-acoustic equipment. Consequently, it was subject to some social media jokes about not having ‘intelligence’ to pick up the oncoming livestock carrier.

By 30 April, the Russian ship, project 11982 “Seliger” was on scene. It is a  deep-sea research ship, owned by the Main Directorate for deep-sea research, (GUGI), and hence has dynamic positioning to assist in the operations. It is with the Russian Navy specialist rescue tug SB-739, not far.

However, the “Heather Sea” was definitely not in the same vicinity for several days, but about 17nm NE. 2 distinct areas were searched by 2 groups of ships.  Judging by the hive of activity in 1 spot though, the Russian Navy has began work on potentially lifting valuable equipment from the wreck. However the Russian MoD denies this is taking place:

Ships on scene of Liman wreck

 

Backstory: For those of you who don’t understand how ships can collide despite all modern tech, here is an interesting video of such situation simulated. (add in dense fog, possible crew fatigue & language barrier). Although I think the Liman was at anchor or idling at the time of the collision.

 

 

Deployment in Med

Northern Fleet Task group headed by the anti-submarine destroyer “Severomorsk” returned to Mediterranean on 27 April after a lengthy 2-month circumnavigation of Africa.

In Russian

Interesting goodwill deployment, it also shows the capability of the navy to go long-distance voyages. More interesting is that it hasn’t returned back to its Northern Fleet home port. It is probable that it could in Cyprus on port call and temporarily join the Eastern Mediterranean Squadron.

The Russian corvettes “Boikiy” & “Soobrazitelniy” have finished their North Atlantic, as they were escorted through Belgium EEZ, on 25/26 April.

 

Their accompanying tug is now in Kaliningrad, according to AIS data. So does that mean the two corvettes are there or back in Kronstadt?

 

Transit of the “Admiral Essen”

My suspicions that the “Admiral Essen” is moving to its permanent base was confirmed last week.   The Russian Navy project11356 “Admiral Essen” (751),

has indeed left the Baltic port of Kronstadt on 26 April, and has transited through Channel, after being met by the Dutch navy, on its way to Black Sea. No lurid MSM headlines about the Russian Navy this time!

It was in company with several NATO warships, including the Royal Navy “HMS ST Albans”, (F83) the Spanish navy, “Reina Sofia” (F84)

This is good news for the Black Sea Fleet, as its permanent basing in the region, will help to balance the deployment of modern warships between the eastern Med and the Black Sea, in a time of heightened crisis.

By coincidence, the “Admiral Essen”‘might just cross paths, with the “Shtandart”, a replica Peter the Great’s frigate,  sailing off Portugal. Now that would a good photo opportunity.

 

Future projects and new builds

As anticipated due to the snags encountered in the current naval ship building program, the likely construction start of the first Russian Navy, Project 23560, Leader-class (new generation of Nuclear-Powered) Destroyers, will slip further behind.

The 2nd of the project 11711, “Petr Morgunov” to set to be launched this summer. sea trials of the 1st one, the large landing ship “Ivan Gren”, are ongoing in the Baltic Sea. The 11711 project became more important following the cancellation of the Mistral-class delivery in 2014.

Project 20180  “Akademik Alexandrov” is scheduled to be launched on 11 May 17. Holding Ice-class for Arctic work, its role in the Russian navy will be for sea-going rescue support including submarines for the Northern Fleet. It has an ROV capability and can undertake underwater search/survey work.

 

The Pacific Fleet-

Pacific fleet ships including the “Varyag” arrived on 27 April, at the Vietnamese port of Cam Ranh. In English

In Russian

The “Varyag” is scheduled to attend Singapore’s International Maritime Review on the 15 May, as part of the Singapore Navy’s 50th anniversary.

 

Returns from Syrian deployments

Project 745,  Sorum class tug “MB-304″ and Natya-I Class minesweeper ” Kovrovets” (913)

have both returned this week from Tartus.

 

China

The Chinese navy made its first Philippines port call in a decade, visiting Davao . The ships are the group on a worldwide tour as explained in NB 08/17 last week.

Here is a video of President Duterte visiting one of them:

Different atmosphere & attitude, (saluting the guard of honour, neat polo-shirt) compared to his visit on the Russian Navy “Varyag”.

 

Video of the group’s departure:

Launch of 2nd aircraft carrier, (still no name), that took place on 26April in video and in images: here

 

UK- RN destroyer in Black Sea

The UK tabloids have gone mad with their hysterical headlines. Me thinks that Shakespeare’s title is better, “Much Ado About Nothing”.The Russian Embassy in the U.K. trolled this event with a tweet.

(Note in particular the track on the insert photo)

 

The Type 45 destroyer “HMS Daring” sailed from Romania to continue her operational deployment in the Black Sea,” in a press release.  Following on this, “HMS Daring” went to Bulgaria before returning through the Bosporous on 29 April, after 5 days in total.

Finally

Marine archeology in Crimea

At time, when 7th May will soon be commemorated, a brief detour into one event that took place off Crimea during the 2nd World War, near Evpatoria.  A team of deep-sea diving researchers discovered a Soviet ship captured by the Germans in 1943, and which subsequently sank in a Soviet bombing raid later in 1943.It is possible that “Kharkov” (Boy Feddersen), has an amount of looted treasure that the Germans pillaged from Crimea. The ship was discovered at a depth of about 90 meters. In Russian

 

Ships’ cats

Russian Navy cats got featured in the UK media,

nothing quite like having a friendly four-legged furry feline to keep sailors company, certainly it is the “Moskva” cat in the picture.

The Russian navy celebrates a first cat on a long range voyage on Russian naval vessels to the Syrian coast.  Surely that honour would have gone to the “Admiral Kuznetsov” cats? ( quite possibly back in the mid 90s). Doesn’t the “Varyag” have a cat, since it deployed all of the way from Vladivostok to Syria.?  Anyway here’s an article on Russian Sea & river service cats

 

Part 2 Assessment of Russian Navy

By the US Office of naval Intelligence – “The Russian Navy – A Historic Transition”

 

Turkish Stream officially starts..

The pipelaying ship is already in Novorossiysk

 

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