Russian Submarine Deployment A ’Political’ Move

Posted Aug 6, 2009 by Christopher Szabo
Reports of two Russian nuclear attack submarines off the continental shelf of North America have caused a flurry of analysis in military circles. Reports say Russia has not deployed submarines this far in a decade.
U-434 Formerly a Russian Submarine In Hamburg
U-434 Formerly a Russian Submarine In Hamburg
The Times Online says the presence of the Russian submarines has ”reawakened concerns” about Russia’s plans for its military. Although a Russian general said the submarines were on a ”routine patrol,” the website quoted Commodore Stephen Saunders, a former submarine commander in Britain’s Royal Navy and editor of the respected military journal Jane’s Fighting Ships:
The arrival of Akula Class submarines off the U.S. eastern seaboard is as much a political move by the Russian Navy as a military one, although these deployments would always have to be approved from high up. It’s unquestionably the Russian Navy trying to raise its profile.
CNS News says the “Akula” class of nuclear attack submarine, called the Shchuka-B (“Pike”) carries both torpedoes and nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
The class is the most modern Russian class of attack submarine. During the Cold War, the task of attack submarines was to follow the much larger ballistic missile-carrying submarines, in the hope of destroying them before they could launch their nuclear missiles.
The geopolitical journal Stratfor describes the Russian patrol as “no small signal” to the U.S. and western navies. The journal said:
It is particularly noteworthy that Russia was able to put two of these subs to sea and resume patrols off the U.S. East Coast at a time of heightening tension between Washington and Moscow, and with the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia fast approaching.
One of the submarines is reported to be returning towards Russia, but the other is believed to be heading south, either to Cuba or Venezuela, where Russian ships have berthed in more recent times.
Late last year, a battle group of Russian ships, based around the heavy missile cruiser RFS Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) visited Venezuela for exercises with the Venezuelan Navy, and then stopped in Cuba. The ship then made a courtesy call in Cape Town, South Africa, according to SA Navy News. The ship then went on to India.