by LeDahu

An overview this week – the Baltic & Black seas 

The Baltics

“SNMG1 in the Baltic sea to reassure allies”. NATO 

A sore, touchy subject for the West MSM, that gets more than its fair share of hysterical spin by the MSM.  All of this is geopolitical smoothing of the Baltic states’ ruffled feathers. Not to mention, the fact that the US NATO duo seem intent on piling in personnel & equipment at an unprecedented rate, using the region as a tripwire. (France 24 10 May 17)

“Any buildup of Russian combat power in an area where they know, and we all know, they are not threatened by anything that we are doing … is simply destabilizing,” Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said.

 

This is what a Western think tanks views the Kaliningrad area, which the Rand Corporation sets out as recommendations to the US DOD in a report:

“DoD should seek a clear view of the role that Kaliningrad might play, with its strong antiair defenses; how would NATO neutralize them?” (Pezard & al, Rand 2017)

Other aspects of this report is covered in a Sputnik article (20 April 17)

It’s goes without saying that NATO hates the Russian  incremental response in the region, because it perceives it is a stronghold and carries out what is called an “anti-access/area denial (A2/AD)” doctrine. It is also seen by NATO as a standoff against them.

The Dutch navy reported that the 2 Buyan Class corvettes were still in the Baltic, and hence this warranted the presence of both Dutch & Norwegian frigates.( Marineschepen 12 May 17).

Forthcoming Russian exercises will take place in September,   “Zapad-2017” highlights the nervousness of NATO & its proxies,(Ukraine’s Turchinov), as they fear it could be a launching pad for a kind of “Suwalki offensive”. It is the principle combat drills for the Baltic Sea Fleet.

RFN Boiky – USS Carney seen in a photo (11 May)

Additionally, 6 NATO ship joined a large-scale exercise in Estonia.(ERR 12 May 17)

Including frigates “HNLMS Evertsen”, (F805) and “HNoMS Roald Amundsen”, (F311), part of NATO Maritime Group One, as well mine countermeasures warships from Estonia, Norway, the U.K. & Belgium, (these being part of NATO SNMCMG1. (In video RT 13 May 17)

The tempo of the various NATO & national exercises are brief in duration but relentless in frequency, these days. Upcoming exercises include Baltic Sea will participate in exercises including Baltic Operations, “Dynamic Mongoose”, “Northern Coast” and “Brilliant Mariner”.

The Baltic Sea Fleet was exercising this week, with 56 ships & 2 submarines. (TASS 17 May 17)  Following that, on 18 May 2017 it celebrated its foundation on 18 May 1703, 314th birthday.

The Baltic Fleet aviation also carried out training flights, (Russian MOD 16 May 17)

Two based Su-24M buzzed the Dutch “HNLMS Evertsen”, (no squeals of ‘aggressive’ behaviour), they simply posted a couple of photos instead. (marineschepen 17 May 17)

Video: HNLMS Evertsen/ Royal Netherlands Navy

On Tuesday May 16th 2017 around noon, two Russian navy Su-24M Fencer jets flew three times at a distance of 200 yards past the Dutch air-defence and commandfrigate HNLMS Evertsen (De Zeven Provinciën class). The frigate was at that time in the Baltic Sea with Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1).

The overall tempo of exercises throughout the Russian Navy, in the last week or so, is gathering pace, but June the 1st is just round the corner, and this is traditionally the start of the summer training & deployment season for the Russian Navy.

 

The Black Sea

This week the Black Sea Fleet marked its 234 Years of navy duties. (Sputnik 14 May 17)

Due to NATO’s frequent incursions, under the cover of “Operation Endeavour”, (never-ending, all encompassing …), the Black Sea is a another hotspot for encounters between NATO, US and Russian military.

“Russia’s Black Sea Fleet warships double maritime operation time, after NATO increases military presence there”. (Xinhua News 12 May)

Warships and submarine Black Sea Fleet fulfilled various tasks at sea according to Russian MoD sources, (14 May 17)  (just to keep NATO on its toes or on tender hooks?)

In the latest MSM bogus outrage incident, spearheaded by Fox News, a Russian Su-27 “flew in six metres from an US Navy  P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft over the Black Sea. (Fox News 12 May 17)

This is an otherwise unremarkable event that once more got blown ridiculously out of proportion because it only involves the Russia military. If this is the new standard set by Western MSM, then it is poor quality indeed. Even though the event was ” considered by the [US] flight crew to be safe and professional”, the Pentagon thought it was “highly provocative” because the jet was armed. ( wait a sec while I stop laughing.. it’s a QRA jet, even if it didn’t have missiles, it has a cannon). Anyway, just take note of this “A separate official said about 60 such incidents have occurred since 2007, RT reported.” Business as usual in international waters.(Yawn).

Background information on the Fleet

 

Other deployments

Russian Baltic Fleet warships will make long-distance voyages to the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Arctic. Not much detail, but this routine stuff for the navy. (Not that the MSM will try to make big fuss on 1 or 2 of these deployments when they sail down the Channel).

(TASS 13 May 17)

The latest deployment is the Russian submarine, “Krasnodar”, which was off Portuguese coast last week:

Entering the Mediterranean on 13 May, in company of a Ticonderoga-Class, US Navy, (USS Leyte Gulf, CG-55, moved down from Norway?) according to Interfax. 13 Nay 17)  Photos ( GBC 16 May 17)

The “Admiral Essen” stopped by for a couple of days in Cyprus (Cyplive 15 May 17)

An aviation NOTAM warns Russian warships are  planning live rocket tests off the coast of eastern Libya next week. (Alwasat 17 May 17)  from 24 May until 27 May 2017, connected to the “Krasnodar” no doubt. Some speculation, (not to be taken too seriously), “Russia may be planning a cruise missile barrage on Libyan targets.” (The Drive 18 May 17)

The article erroneously states that the Russian navy has 2 “Admiral Gorshkov” class ships, making it seem that they are both operational, (which they’re not). Likewise, the article makes reference to NOTAMs as a precursor to military ops, which isn’t necessarily the case. It missed the last Russian Navy NOTAM, for the “Admiral Kuznetsov”, back in January, (no strikes then).

Interestingly, the “Smetlivyy” has left its Black Sea port on 16 May to join the Mediterranean Squadron.

Far from the Mediterranean, the missile cruiser “Varyag” conducted exercises with Navy frigate in Singapore in the South China Sea. (TASS 13 May 17)

The “Varyag” participated in the international maritime parade in Singapore. (RIA 15 May 17)  Interesting, given that there were numerous navies, (US, Japan, France), who ordinarily would not be rubbing shoulders in this day and age. Unique occasion for once, in the spirit of naval fraternity.

Update on the St Petersburg cancellation of Victory Day naval parade. This tweet apparently shows the original port movements in preparation for Victory Day.

Latest news on the upcoming refit planned for the “Admiral Kuznetsov”, which will concentrate on replacement of boilers and electronics onboard). No mention of missiles or recovery systems upgrade.

(sudostroenie 15 May 17)

 

In a previous Brief, I mentioned that a Russian navy hospital ship, project B-320, type “Ob”, the “Irtysh” had been in Limassol. It has recently called into Langkawi, Malaysia, probably on its way back to its permanent Pacific Fleet base. It had been part of the Mediterranean group of ships for 3 months. (Russian MOD 18 May 17)

With the benefit of hindsight, there was indeed a comprehensive range of ships, supporting the Syrian operations on land. Ranging from combat, logistical and auxiliary, it seems many Russian units have been rotated through the Syrian mission, gaining experience and know-how in the process.

 

Tartus naval base 

Sputnik reports that the naval might take 5-7 years to complete. That’s quite lengthy and indicates a lot of work envisaged. (Sputnik 17 May 17)

 

US navy in Black Sea

Destroyer “USS Oscar Austin” (DDG-79) first arrived in port Constana, Romania  (R L 11 May 17),

Then it called into Varna, Bulgaria. (RT 18 May 17)

 

Exercises with the Bulgarian navy:

Pacific- Asia

  1. Korean President Moon  has warned of a ‘high possibility of military clashes’ with North Korea, in particular, along the disputed sea border off the Koreas’ west coast. (AFP 17 May 17)

Similarly, the US has deployed B1 bombers to the region, as well as the US Navy its newest airborne early warning and control aircraft, (AWAC),  the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, to Iwakuni, (US Navy 17 May 17) (Stripes 16 May 17)

“USS Abraham Lincoln” was previously underway for sea trials for ship’s performance evaluation after an extensive maintenance refit.  It has been confirmed back into US Navy service. (14 May 17)

It was briefly delayed going on patrol due to some unspecified issues. (15 May 17)

This is the composition of the group according to Japanese media:

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN76)

USS Mustin (DDG-89)

USS McCampbell (DDG-85)

USS Barry (DDG-52)

USS Shiloh (CG 67)

USS John S. McCain (DDG 56)

 

The carrier will need to “conduct flight deck and carrier qualifications to certify their ability to safely launch and recover aircraft following Ronald Reagan’s recent completion of sea trials.”  Only once this has been done, then the group will be actively deployed. (US Navy Pacific Fleet 16 May 17)

 

US surveillance of forthcoming non-NATO exercises 

US & NATO Surveillance is being boosted for big bilateral Belarusian-Russian exercise, ‘Zapad 17’ later on this year. (scheduled 14-20 September, from the Kola peninsula to Belarus).

When it’s US that does it, round of applause- bravo by allies and supporters,

When it’s Russia – hissy fits all round – labelled as ‘aggression’ by officials & MSM.

The double standards are glaring to say the least and pathetic.

(WSJ  May 17)

 

China naval anti-piracy escort 

25th Chinese escort naval fleet, which has just finished its four-month mission in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, arrived in Madagascar for 5-day visit after mission in Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. (Xinhua 14 May 17)

 

WW 2 Navy in Baltic Sea

Two Soviet submarines were recently found at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland:

(Sputnik May 17)

 

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