Monday, September 29, 2008

Peter the Great Deployment Update

26 Sep:

Gist: NATO forces shadow Peter the Great and the Chabanenko from the sea and the air in the Norwegian Sea while the Russians conduct flight operations. Norwegian P-3 Orions circle the ships, obviously making observations as NATO will probably do every step of the way to Venezuela. The film crew observes as the P-3 drops sonobuoys in the water, listening for Russian submarines in the area and collecting data for analysis. The captain of the Peter the Great knew that the Norwegians were coming long before they got within visual range because of all the radar equipment mounted on the superstructure the size of a 17 story building. The navigator has more pressing concerns: avoiding bad weather on the way to Venezuela.

There are also a lot of contract sailors on board.

Toward the evening the sea state is five, which means waves up to seven meters. Flight ops were planned. Peter the Great is carrying two, one SAR bird and a second ASW helo. The fire fighters get on deck to erect the crash net so that the helo doesn't fall overboard. Flight ops are cancelled because of the winds and rain and put off until tomorrow.

26 Sep:

Gist: Peter the Great conducts exercises under the watchful eye of NATO. Crew training is conducted every day on board the Peter the Great and the Admiral Chabanenko. Since the 63,000 horsepower engines of the Chabenenko aren't nuclear powered, she requires a lot of fuel. A Baltic Fleet tanker provides 70 tons of fuel per hour through a flexible hose while underway to the Chabenenko. The Yel'na also provides the Chabenenko with fresh water. The procedure takes seven hours while underway. Its just like in the air, differing in speed and scale. Navigators are careful so as not to cause a collision and spill even a drop of fuel into the water.

Sailors attend training below deck to learn Navy tradition and their rights. If sailors have any questions about their responsibilities or rights they can ask representitives of the military procurator's office or the Federal Security Service (FSB). Usually no one has any questions.

After training, some go off to an unexpected field day while others gather on deck - the Marines. They gather for training on repelling boarders while traversing a narrow strait.

29 Sep: Flight ops. Eavesdropping on a pre-flight briefing. Good flying weather is noted - sea state 2-3, wind 7 meters/sec (appx 14 kts). The crew chief says that the crew members wear special survival suits that will keep them warm and buoyent in the event of an accident. They put on two suits - the first is warm and hooks up to tubes on the helo to provide warmth. The second is orange and waterproof. A crew member demonstrates the inflatable "waterwings" he wears on his hips. The emergency heating system will keep a crew member warm in the water for up to an hour.

Everything is ready, permission is given for flight and a special elevator brings the helo up to the deck. There are two Ka-27s on board the Peter the Great, a SAR helo and an ASW helo. The reporter goes over the characteristics of the Ka-27 and names other country that flies this "most reliable helo of its class". Tonights task is to demonstrate mastery of night flying by flying over to and landing on the Chabanenko and returning. They do this a dozen times tonight while being watched by NATO ships and planes.




Thanks for the videos (and for your blog!). I wonder whether you have come across more details about this trip. For example, do you have the full list of the ships accompanying the Peter the Great? I suppose that there is at least one Russian SSN nearby, have the Russians ever identified it? Lastly, do you have the officially planned route? Judging by the videos on Zvezda TV channel reports the group crossed the Irish Sea which surprised me since I thought that they would cross East of the UK.



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