Written by Maksim Klimov; Originally appeared at VPK, translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
The Russian Navy is in the crosshairs of a big mine
The hacker group Anonymous published excerpts from materials funded by the UK project Integrity Initiative Institute of Public Administration, as well as data about its director Christopher Donnelly. Among the published documents there are “Proposals for Crimea” from 2014. In the list of measures there is the installation of underwater mines from ferries in the Sevastopol Bay, not much is required for achieving the requisite effect.
Of course, these are a private individual’s proposals, although supported by Her Majesty’s government. The question arises: if these measures were taken, what consequences could they have?
“Whacked” on the head
In view of the complete absence of means of the Russian Navy of combating modern bottom mines if such an event takes place, Sevastopol as a port and fleet base could be paralysed for a long time. On the only minesweepers-seeker available to the Russian Navy, the “Vice Admiral Zakharin” mine complex with underwater vehicle “Mayevka”, at the time the quoted document was created, was not in service. Moreover, despite a sharp aggravation of the situation, “Mayevka” on the “Zakharin” was commissioned only two years after the Crimean events.
The use of mine weapons by the enemy in Syria would have even more serious consequences. Undermining our warships at the entrance to Tartus or Latakia could, in addition to catastrophic political consequences, simply block the effective supply of our group by sea, and therefore disrupt the entire operation.
In addition, if the aggravation of the situation with Turkey in 2015 reached a military clash, enemy mines would be one of the biggest problems for us. In terms of marine underwater weapons, this is not a third world country, but one of the leading players in the field of both the operation of advanced models, far superior to those in our country, and the independent development of new ones.
Also, we have forgotten the experience of the “terrorist threat” of underwater weapons, something that we have already experienced in Nicaragua in 1983, or the “mine crisis” in the Red Sea in the mid-80s.
According to the public procurement site, so far the only minesweeper-seeker of the Black Sea Fleet is unfit for action (because of hydro-acoustics), so the solution to the issue is planned for this year. On December 15 the sea trawler “Ivan Golubets” was on combat duty in the Mediterranean Sea (with insurance in tow), built in 1973 and since that time without any upgrades. Actually, this is an exhaustive description of the situation with the latest anti-mine ship “Aleksandr Obukhov”. When antiques are sent on a combat operation in its stead, adopted by the Navy two years ago, there are serious questions raised.
And there is no “Kuznetsov”?
The situation with torpedo weapons is also not encouraging. Throughout our carrier group’s campaign in 2016 there was not a single ship with modern anti-submarine weapons for the protection of “Kuznetsov”, and our ships were actually maneuvering combat operations in areas under the gun of foreign submarines operating in the same area.
Moreover, even in the conditions of sharp deterioration of relations with Turkey at the end of 2015, the Navy did not do anything for real anti-submarine support of its forces off the coast of Syria, and this is taking into account Ankara’s direct statements that our ships, including the cruiser “Moscow”, are in Turkish submarines’ sights.
Problems with underwater weapons are not technical, but purely organisational excuses, primarily relate to the actions and inactions of specific officials. We could very well urgently deploy the border system MGK-608M and conduct exercises with the use of new torpedoes, such as the complex “Paket”, used with helicopters. Technically, the problem was solved in a couple of days. It would be advisable to use our submarines of Project 6363 as targets for the practical use of weapons, having tested the “Vist-2” anti-torpedo system at the same time. Thus, the command of the Turkish Navy would be convinced of the real possibility of detecting their submarines and destroying them with the Russian Navy’s new torpedoes in case of the outbreak of hostilities.
There is a feeling that the Navy simply ignores the real threats “from under the water”. As stated by the representative of the industry, the position of the military is: “we have a very strong central power that will ensure the protection of ships not only form existing but also from the potential mines”. People that speak in such fashion live in a parallel reality. And here is the phrase responsible for the theme of underwater weapons from officials: “When ships will start to blow up from mines, then we will take measures!”
We have never conducted torpedo firing in the Arctic, under the ice with homing systems. At the same time, our “partners” conduct annual anti-submarine exercises there with the team application of submarines and shooting up to two dozens torpedoes per submarine. And while we are in the Artic actually engaged in “patrolling with elements of fitness”, the enemy is working out there a tough combat training, readying for the immediate destruction of our submarines upon reception of the order.
The phrase of a high-ranking naval officer, who has done a lot to improve the real combat capability of the Fleet, shows how bitterly real sailors perceive the current situation: “Until “Moscow” becomes “Cheonan”, nothing will change”. Let me remind you that the “Cheonan” is a corvette of the South Korean Navy torpedoed by a very small submarine of the DPRK in 2010. And “Moscow” is a cruiser. Ours.