Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Two Russian Submarines Patrolling Off East Coast

Back to the Bad Old Days. Paging Jack Ryan...

From the New York Times(!):

Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of U.S.

WASHINGTON — A pair of nuclear-powered Russian attack submarines has been patrolling off the eastern seaboard of the United States in recent days, a rare mission that has raised concerns inside the Pentagon and intelligence agencies about a more assertive stance by the Russian military.

The episode has echoes of the cold war era, when the United States and the Soviet Union regularly parked submarines off each other’s coasts to steal military secrets, track the movements of their underwater fleets — and be poised for war.

But the collapse of the Soviet Union all but eliminated the ability of the Russian Navy to operate far from home ports, making the current submarine patrols thousands of miles from Russia more surprising for military officials and defense policy experts.

“I don’t think they’ve put two first-line nuclear subs off the U.S. coast in about 15 years,” said Norman Polmar, a naval historian and submarine warfare expert.

The submarines are of the Akula class, a counterpart to the Los Angeles class attack subs of the United States Navy, and not one of the larger submarines that can launch intercontinental nuclear missiles.
Of course, if they were of the type that could launch ICBMs, the Russians would be violating several conventions, and escalating matters far more than they already have.

And the Russians aren't denying it. From the AP:
Russian general confirms submarine patrols near US

MOSCOW – A top Russian general says two nuclear-powered Russian attack submarines that have been spotted off the U.S. East Coast are part of regular patrols. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, says the patrols are not newsworthy.

But this doesn't seem to cause much consternation among the Navy blogs I visit.
Cdr. Salamander isn't worried. Neither is EagleSpeak.

Galrahn at Information Dissemination isn't too concerned, but has his usual thoughtful insight, and is worth reading.

So maybe I'm overblowing this. Taken in isolation, I probably am, but taken in aggregate...

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