Thursday, June 12, 2008

Russia Day - The Navy Celebrates

In Sevastopol', the Black Sea Fleet conducted a "maritime parade". Here the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet reviews major combatants including the escort ship "Ladnyy":

The 12th of June is celebrated as "Russia Day", the day in 1990 that Russia declared it's sovereignty from the Soviet Union. One would think that Russia would take it as seriously as we take our Independence Day. One would be wrong. A few years ago, I was part of an official team taking part in a regularly scheduled treaty regulated activity. The Russians scheduled us to be present during "Russia Day" and were shocked when the factory we were visiting shut down for a long five day weekend in honor of "Russia Day". Our Russian hosts had forgotten that "Russia Day" was being celebrated during our activities and we sat around our hotel for a few days and twiddled our thumbs.

Good times, good times....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cool Pic of the Day

"The Decisions of the 27th Communist Party Congress Come to Life"

No photograph encapsulates my contempt for Communism and the people that did stuff like this to their own country more.

(Photo: Author)

First Look - 11 June 2008

The Russian Fleet Will Receive New Ships in 2008

The latest tests of the Shchuka Project (Akula 2) SSN at the Amur Shipyard at Komsomol’sk na Amur have been successful.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the boat will be commissioned into the fleet in 2008. According to experts, it will be the fastest and quietest multi-purpose submarine in the fleet.

In addition, the Caspian Sea Flotilla will receive the newest escort ship “Dagestan” and two small landing craft. This is according to the Commander in Chief of the Caspian Sea Flotilla Vice Admiral Vikto Kravchuk, speaking on front of the Makhachkala Brigade of Maritime Security for the Caspian Flotilla region on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.
(See next article for further details.)

The Caspian Sea Flotilla will receive the newest escort ship “Dagestan” and two small landing craft. This is according to the Commander in Chief of the Caspian Sea Flotilla Vice Admiral Vikto Kravchuk, speaking on front of the Makhachkala Brigade of Maritime Security for the Caspian Flotilla region on the occasion of its 25th anniversary.

The celebration of this anniversary takes place with intensive preparations for the exercise “Caucauses-2008” in the background. According to the Admiral, “Now the ships of the brigade are charged with defense of shipping, supporting maritime commerce, guarding the fishing industry and development of the continental shelf”.

The escort ship “Tartarstan”, built in the Zelenograd Shipyard, was commissioned into the brigade in 2003 as well as the small “Serna” class small landing craft. Earlier, the CinC Russian Navy noted that “Dagestan” will significantly exceed the armament of the “Tartarstan”. The escort ship will perform search, surveillance and destruction of surface, subsurface and air targets. It is equipped with the universal strike missile “Uran”, with a range of 350 km, anti-air and anti-submarine defenses, special devices to detect and destroy torpedoes as well as acoustic detection devices. A Ka-28 or Ka-31 can be based on board.

The “Serna” class small landing craft can transport and land on an unequipped beach 45 tons of military equipment and 92 marines, a greater amount than other classes of landing craft. The “Serna” class is capable of speeds of 30 knots in sea states up to five while delivering a medium T-80 tank to a beach up to 1000km away. Additionally, the “Serna” is capable of getting itself off of bars.

Ships of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) Will Take Part in International Exercises

Ships of the Russian BSF will participate in international exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, according to K1R Igor’ Dygalo, the press secretary for the Russian Navy.

He added that the BSF escort ship “Ladnyy” has finished initial preparations for her participation for the second time in “Active Endeavor” in August 2008, a joint NATO anti-terror exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

He also said that the Black Sea Maritime Operational Group BLACKSEAFOR is planned for activation in August.

“From the moment of the creation of the BLACKSEAFOR group in 2001, BSF ships have operated with ships from other countries in the Black Sea littoral, carrying out missions with the goal of supporting security and stability.”

Aircraft of the Russian Northern Fleet Carried Out Flights over the Arctic.

Two Northern Fleet Aviation Tu-142 Bear F ASW aircraft carried out a planned flight over the Arctic today…including over the polar regions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Look - 10 June 2008

The Russian Navy Will Expand Its Presence on the World Oceans

General-Lieutenant B.Shamanov, Chief of the Combat Readiness Directorate of the General Staff announced, “The Russian Navy will expand its presence in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Northern Latitudes.”

“The Navy has a defined mission during the summer training period – presence not only in the Atlantic, but in the Pacific also. The subsurface forces of the Northern Fleet will increase its activities also,” Shamanov added.

Tu-95 Strategic Bombers Successfully Complete Their Assignment

Two Tu-95 strategic missile carriers successfully completed a flight of “great radius” according to plans to patrol the far reaches of the Arctic region.

A pair of aircraft also dealt with the issue of maximum re-fueling in the air. Having carried out the 20 hour flight, the crews returned to its home base at Engles’.

The planes were escorted by NATO fighters during the patrol.

A Task Group of Baltic Fleet Ships Participate in the Active Phase of BALTOPS-2008.

After a meeting of participants in Gdynia, Poland, a Task Group of Baltic Fleet ships set sail to take part in the active phase of the international maritime exercise BALTOPS-2008. Ships from 13 nations are participating in the exercise. The escort ship “Neustrashimyy” and the large landing ship “Kaliningrad” are representing the Russian Navy. There is a detachment of marines on the landing ship and eight armored vehicles. The escort ship has a Ka-27 embarked, whose crew made 10 training landings during the transit from Baltiysk to Gdynia.

According to the plan of maneuver, there will be an ASW exercise, searching for and tracking submarines with helicopters. There will also be a gunnex during the active phase against surface and air targets, a maneuvering exercise, a communications exercise, an anti-air exercise, an ASW exercise against a notional enemy submarine, maritime stop and search exercises as well as anti-terrorism exercises.

The Salvage Ship “Geogriy Titov” Returns to Severomorsk.

Sevmash: We Helped Our Collegues

Sevmash workers helped test a project 971 SSN at the Amur Shipyard. A group of engineers specializing in steam pipe fitting, cooling machinery and high pressure air systems returned from a far eastern TDY. “Thanks to your workers, who offered valuable help in testing,” wrote the General Director of OAO Amur Shipyard to the leadership of OAO Sevmash, listing the workers by name. OAO Sevmash built seven project 971 boats between 1984 and 2001….

According to the newspaper “Kommersant”, construction of the project 971 SSN has stretched out to 20 years because of funding deficits at the Amur Shipyard. Workers in Severodvinsk aren’t throwing their brothers under the bus at a difficult moment – the turbines successfully took steam at the facility in Bol’shoy Kamen’. The Sevmash team plans to go back out there soon to participate in dockside trials and testing.

Cold War Stories: Guardfish Vs. K-184, Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

07 June. We got a message from Pacific Fleet Command: “Maintain caution, do not execute a trail of the American submarine.” We detected a possible BPS-9 bearing 172 relative in single sweep mode. By the end of the broadcast, sonar detected and held propeller sounds bearing 090 relative for five minutes. We detected a leak of KhGTsEhN-601 (TR Note: again, in Russian ХГЦЭН – 601) from the starboard reactor and I decided to vent it since the level of radioactivity and aerosols began to rise in the 6th compartment. The crew heard the propeller noises from a possible submarine on the port side throughout the boat.

08 June. Our break-off maneuver from the American submarine didn’t yield any results. Sonar could still detect it periodically. We sent three messages about detecting the American submarine. During the broadcast that night all the lights on the “Nakat” ESM screen were lit up (“flash” type), which gave the impression that there was, maybe 1-2 cables away, a radar operating nearby, so we immediately dove to 60 meters. The next time we came to PD to catch the broadcast, we detected a BPS-9. We continued our break-off course, speed and depth while using active countermeasures.

09 June. Sonar detected a submarine bearing 150 relative. I decided to break contact with the American boat, creating two pockets of water turbulence, placing two active countermeasures between the boats and opening range by changes in course, speed and depth. I went to the navigator’s stand when the junior navigator, Junior Lieutenant A.V.Konev (now a Vice Admiral and Deputy Commander of the Pacific Ocean Fleet) told me a joke: “Comrade Commander, isn’t it just like a circus ring, where our boat runs in a circle while the American boat plays trainer?” I smiled. Right then the Political Assistant, K2R G.Ya.Antonov, called me up and asked, “Can’t we just talk to the Americans?” Once the joking started, I answered back in jest, “Don your IDA-59s!” The situation on the conn was tense. You could read on people’s faces the weight on their souls, but if you joked around a little bit, it meant that everything would be okay. We broke off from the Americans, since we couldn’t detect them anymore. An Orion ASW aircraft flew in the area of the lost datum, conducting a search, but we were already gone. We got the order to begin searching for an SSBN along a route measuring 400 NM and then return to base, arriving on the 19th of June. The route back to base was exactly the same as the route out.

10 June. We took up our assigned position an began to search for the SSBN at 0600. Periodically we executed a maneuver to uncover any submarines following us. None were found.

11 June. Mid-day we came to PD for the broadcast and detected a ship visually bearing 070, range 40 cables. Sonar once again didn’t detect anything. Acoustic conditions for us were terrible. At 1837, sonar heard propeller sounds. While maintaining caution, we came to periscope depth. At periscope depth we saw the stern of a 15,000 ton displacement ship heading away from us at a distance of about 9 cables. In this way, you can say that we determined the effective range versus surface contacts of our passive sonar.

12 June. At 2200, we finished our ASW search for the SSBN and began to transit back to base. Forty days on deployment and there wasn’t one message that came in that wasn’t inflammatory in some way, and this was peace time!

13 June. We got the intel summary: “The ASW carrier “Tripoli” is en route Okinawa”. We will soon pass Okinawa and exit the East China Sea.

14 June. We continue in the East China Sea.

15 June. We came to PD that night for the broadcast and nothing came to our address. Cloudiness was 3, sea state 2, visibility 3 miles. We shot stars and used Loran to determine our position. The crew is preparing the boat and the reports for the return to base.

16 June. At 0200 we fixed out position near the island of Dandzo: we got a visual bearing to the light and distance to the island using the radar in single sweep mode. At 0600, we fixed our position again and entered the Korean Straits submerged at a depth of 40 meters. At 1200 we fixed our position using Loran A (four lines intersecting in one spot). On the approach to Tsushima, I wanted to confirm our position, but sonar heard the sounds of propellers bearing 148 which escorted us for 40 minutes. Sonar couldn’t classify the noise. After that we again came to PD to confirm our position. The weather: still, hazy, visibility 20-30 cables.

17 June. We passed Ulin-Do island in front of surfacing point one. The depth there went to 2000 meters and more. Weather: fog, sea state 2.

18 June. There is a mass hair cutting and showering amongst the crew and everyone changes into their special clothes.

19 June. And now we have moored. The staff, an orchestra and the division commander, Kontra-Admiral I.I.Verenikin met us. A new task was put before the crew: meet the Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, who will inspect the boat and the shore accommodations. They just took away our rest and relaxation.

Next: The conclusion...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cold War Stories - Playing Chicken

One of several photographs of a collision with the Echo II K-22, 22 August 1976. Source: Aviation Week via John Kessler and Destroyersonline

K-22 and Voge (FF 1047) Collide in the Mediterranean Sea

The Soviet Echo II class SSGN K-22 was finishing up operations in the Mediterranean Sea near Crete. On 28 August, 1976 the boat was 150 miles to the south-west of the island when it came to PD at 1628. The commander spotted the Knox-class frigate Moinester (FF 1097) in the periscope. The captain immediately estimated bearing and range by eye, bearing 183 relative, range 40-50 cables (in reality, B192 R20 cables). Instead of breaking off, the captain decided to maintain contact for training.

At 1636 the boat dove to 140 meters, turning on C110 10kts and began to close the American frigate. The water depth was 2900 meters, SS 1-2, wind 280 3m/sec, visibility daytime unlimited. The captain of the submarine considered himself as detected by the frigate and maneuvered and varied his speed in order to carry out a break away maneuver. Thanks to his incompetent actions he created a poor sonar environment for his sonar and received spotty data from the targets, and didn’t have a clear view of the surface situation. Maneuvering on a parallel course with the Moinester, distance became 17.5 cables, unacceptably close (course 050).

In these conditions, he came to PD three times – 1650, 1738 and 1753 – and never saw the second frigate. The submarine captain gave the verbal order to quit updating the log, did not sound a general alarm, did not share the data on target movement with the XO, the Nav or the tracking party. He constantly made mistakes in estimating distance and more than once approached at high speed into the skip zone (3-5 cables) from the frigate Moinester. At 1753, the captain detected the frigate bearing 062 relative, 7 cables and turned sharply left, beginning a zig-zag maneuver. The SSGN continued on a general heading of 320 at a depth of 4-5 meters, exposing the sail above the surface of the water. Because of the zig-zagging and the vibration produced by the violent maneuvers, observation through the periscope was difficult and the captain lost sight of the frigate several times, finally losing contact at 1815.

Ten minutes later, unexpectedly for him he saw a second American frigate at very close range. At 1825 the commander of K-22 gave the command “Emergency deep” and “Down periscope”. These measures were too late and the SSGN plowed into the port side of the frigate Voge a minute later at 17 knots under the helo hanger. The blow was struck by the bow of the boat and followed up with the forward part of the sail. The boat received huge dents in the hull, cracks in the bulkheads and a damaged screw. The Voge lost way and was towed at first to the base in Crete and to Toulon, France for repairs in September. The Soviet boat suffered damage to the bow on the outer hull and the sonar dome for the “Kerch’” system was damaged as was the “Argument” missile guidance antenna. The boat had to surface and departed the area of the accident under its own power while being escorted by Soviet ships. Emergency repairs were conducted at Kithera anchorage and after than the boat returned to Severodvinsk for major repairs.

Time Magazine described the incident in its 27 March 1977 issue like this:

One day last August a Soviet Echo Il-class submarine cruising almost submerged trailed a slowly steaming American frigate, the U.S.S. Voge, for nearly an hour. Suddenly, the sub turned straight toward the Voge and sped up sharply. The American sailors, who photographed the sub as it charged toward them, waited for it to turn away. But it kept coming. Moving fast—about 17 knots—the sub slammed into the left quarter of the Voge, bounced off, then wallowed in the frigate's wake. The Voge limped off with one injured crewman and a gashed hull. The sub, with damage visible on its bow, deck, conning tower and missile ports, eventually churned off slowly in another direction.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Look - 08 June 2008

The Black Sea Fleet's main base is still in Sevastopol' for now.

Novorossiysk Prepares to Greet the Black Sea Fleet

Unprecedented constructon has begun in Novorossiysk. The goal of the construction is a base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. A mole is being constructed right now. It is a unique hydro-technical structure, an analogue of which cannot be found in the world (TR Note: As always with the Russians. Yawn.)

The harbor, designed to protect ships of the Black Sea Fleet will be finished by 2014. It will be a kilometer and a half long. The construction will take place at a depth of 45 meters. General-Major Michael Tashlyk, the commander of Spets-Stroy Russia in the Southern Federal District has declared that no one else in the world has done such construction work at such a depth on such a scale. (TR Note: Again. Yawn.)

The base will be completed by 2020. Forty billion rubles have been allocated for this program. We remind you that the lease on the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol' runs out in 2017.

Fire Drill Conducted on the "Yuri Dolgorukiy"

OAO Sevmash conducted a fire drill on the SSBN Yuri Dolgorukiy. Colonel-General Pavel Plat, the chief military expert for the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) observed the exercise. According to the scenario, a fire broke out in one of the compartments. In addition to civilian firefighters, members of the crew under the command of Kapitan First Rank Konstantin Mit'kin extinguished the "blaze".

It was a high level exercise. At the end of the event, the captain of the Dolgoruki was given an icon of the Holy Mary in the Burning Bush (TR Note: As a theme in the Russian Orthodox art, depiction of the Blessed Virgin in the center of the two four-pointed stars, holding close the Child in clerical robes as the "Great High Priest") on behalf of the leadership of the Russian MES, considered to defend lives against fire and the savior of firefighters.