The bigger picture – Part 1

“The Russian Navy is a capable Navy, that’s why their ships are a part of our routine surveillance plans.”

Admiral Clive Johnstone, Commander Allied Maritime Command, NATO

Memo to useless Western MSM idiot-journalists, who suffer from “duality confusion” and write articles such as these examples  and also write that the Russian pilots are a “bit shit.”  Memo- your NATO maritime boss doesn’t agree with your analysis of the Russian Navy.

“The Russian Navy is a capable Navy, that’s why their ships are a part of our routine surveillance plans, in the case of the Kuznetsov group, we’ve learned what we can from the group and how it operates,” said Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone, Commander Allied Maritime Command, “we’ll continue to monitor for any changes in behavior and continue to work closely within the Alliance to ensure all Allied navies are comfortable with the level of surveillance and information flowing regarding Russian Navy assets.”

(A language Health Warning needs to attached to the wording- overuse of military babble can seriously endanger your mental health, e.g. “Recognized Maritime Picture”.  Can you guess what is used to mean in ‘old’ military speak?) NB- there’s me who thought that UN language was bad enough, nicknamed “ UNese”.

The bigger picture- Part 2

It is self-evident that the US, NATO follow the same script, (down to a T).  Given Obama’s speech at the UNGA 60th anniversary,  where he put in 2nd place, Russia and then ISIS as a threat, some 2 years on, the Maritime commander of NATO does exactly the same in a recent speech.


The Mediterranean

All seems quiet on the ocean waves, maybe as a result of a sense of relief or anxiousness. Well, on the 17th, a US P-8, maritime patrol aircraft, did take a peek at the Russian carrier group. But there again, the P-8 were also sent to the Black Sea and off the Levant, as a matter of routine last week.  Link in Spanish:

The Spanish Navy itself will escort the carrier group & has sent an ocean-going patrol boat, the” Cazadora” (P-78).  A damp squib really, compare to October’s response to the Russian Navy, (with the dispatch of the oiler, Cantabria, (A-15) to the Eastern Med and also the frigate, “Juan de Borbón” (F-102) which apparently shadowed the carrier group off the Norwegian coast. Now the escort is just a patrol boat, (so NATO? -What was all the fuss back in October? Anything to do with scaremongering before US elections????) In fact, it goes beyond the ridiculous because the French Navy aren’t even bothering to shadow the carrier group, (well maybe a submarine).  So for the time being that leaves the Portuguese Navy, (3 ships followed the fleet)

and the UK! Note: in the photos released by the Portuguese Navy, there is the landing ship “Aleksander Shabalin“.  It has finished its Syrian Express role and now is going back to the Baltic.

The Royal Navy & other NATO vessels are escorting the group through the Channel, although the media are not making so much of a big deal this time.  So when the MSM & NATO officials say the “Admiral Kuznetsov” was a glorified PR stunt, I would also say so was the hysterical overblown NATO response.  Interestingly one of the NATO vessel is the “Oker”, A-53,  an Oste class ELINT and reconnaissance German ‘spy’ ship, the RN presence at the back is HMS “St Albans”, F83, along with Danish warship, HNOMS ” Roald Amundsen“, F-311, and another German auxiliary oiler “Spessart“, A 1442, but not HMS “Ocean” as some tweets suggest, since it is in the Gulf! Quite a show being put on by NATO in the UK’s backyard and waiting in the wings is the Belgium navy’s ‘Castor’.  It must be also eye watering figure, very expensive, since it cost the RN just around £ 1.4 million back in October, just to shadow the Russian carrier.

Finally, I’d say that the transit through the straits of Gibraltar of the Russian carrier on the morning of 20th Jan was not by chance. It was finally in the Atlantic going home, after leaving Syrian shores on the 6th Jan, after much time spent loitering or slow sailing in the Med.  So now for a short while, there are no aircraft carriers on active service in the Med, (not taking into account the Italians).  But not for long. The US Navy stated that the USS “George H Bush” (CVN 77), leaves its home port on the 21st Jan, heading towards Europe and possibly the Gulf too, to conduct airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Ok enough of the small details, so why has the Russian carrier group gone from Syria?  As we can see that there is an marked increase in fighting in the east of the country, around Tiyas , Palymra, Deir Ez Zor & Al Bab.  ISIS has been pushed back by the Mosul fighting and have concentrated a lot of attacks in Syria.

In essence, the Russian carrier group were there to protect the Western outer edges of the Syrian campaign military operations, as well to give the air wing some sorely needed combat experience. Now there is a change in focus in combat support, hence the arrival of the Su-25 for close air support of ground troops. There is also a marginal decrease in a serious threat of attack from the sea, as the Syrian coastal defence is supposedly integrated & solid. More importantly, it has given the Russian Navy command some thinking time, to learn, adapt and change doctrine, tactics & training content, to reflect the good and not so good lessons learned in Syria.

In my opinion, the most significant overall naval contribution is the missile-carrying, multi-purpose combat ship class, In French

such as the new Admiral Grigorovich and the Buyan class, since they pack a huge punch given their relative small size. They also exemplify the Russian defence doctrine very well,  as explained recently by The Saker. Add in the Steregushchiy class, they form the new core element of the Russian Navy surface combat ship, and for some decades to come. The Pacific fleet is shortly to receive one Steregushchiy-class later this year, the “Sovershenny”, which will join the ” Boikyy”. (And that’s just on the surface ships, not mentioning the submarine capabilities).

Also scheduled to join the fleet in 2017, will be Project 1171, large amphibious assault ship,  “Ivan Gren” which is still at the shipbuilders, Yantar.  It will go on further sea trials in spring of 2017, after it seems some snags were encountered in previous degaussing tests. In Russian

In other news, the Russian Navy is continuing with its modernisation programme and has  plans for an extensive overhaul of five antisubmarine ships, of the Project 1155  (Udaloy-class) ships. The program will cover “life-support systems” and “radio-electronic weapons systems.”  This include the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

What is interesting is not to make a comparison with the US Navy, as the doctrines are not at all the same, however it is useful to look at a couple of points.  One glaring example is refuelling/replenishment at sea, (RAS).  The Russian Navy doesn’t have the same system as most other navies. Take the example of India


As far as I aware, there is no intention on the part of the Russian navy is build such RAS tankers. Again this shows quite clearly how the Russian defence doctrine is rooted towards the near Russian ‘space’, with a sporadic need to deploy no more than a couple of ships much farther from home.  The exception to this is the Syrian campaign, however I would say that this is just a transposition of the Russian naval doctrine.

The Syrian Express is still busy shuttling to and fro, no respite for these unsung workhorses of the navy.  Additionally, another repair ship has been deployed,  the Amur Class  “PM138”, quite possibly as part of a rotation of units. Likewise, the chartered cargo ships with provisions for Syria, are regularly passing through the Bosphorus.  The Kashtan class buoy tender “KIL158” has finally gone home after 21/2 month deployment in Syria. This brings me to the next point of comparing NATO navies with the Russian Navy.  Some NATO navies tend to have dedicated auxiliaries or specific cargo ship, such the UK’s Fort Rosalie class or even the US Military Sealift Command. Yet in Russia, this role is being filled by landing ships, as well as decrepit elderly cargo ships coming to the end of their lives, being used as a stopgap measure, until such a time the Syrian campaign can effectively finished.

Significantly, Russia & Syria have inked the agreement on expanding Tartus as a naval base, for at least 49 years.

Up to 11 warships of the Russian Navy may call in simultaneously, by prior approval by Syria. (Docked or at anchor?). Seriously, this is a game changer in the Med and NATO may see this a big threat. A similar agreement was also signed on Hmemiem airbase. Russia has now an official and permanent warm-water presence outside of the Black Sea. In Russian

Last word

The new US administration has said that it wants to safeguard freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Oh boy, this could  prove to be an interesting development and not for good either. More on this in the next Naval Brief. It is not by pure coincidence that the New of the Chinese Navy was the South Sea fleet commander.

Thank you

AIS data on19th Jan showing both the Russian Navy tanker “Sergey Osipov” and ocean salvage tug Nikolay Chiker”, (part of”„”Kuznetsov” carrier group, idling off the Algerian coast. Somewhere in the middle – the carrier itself, being refueled & replenished.

(AIS inspired modern art?)

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