Russia deploys aircraft carrier to Mediterranean, will visit Syria

Didn’t little Volodya say there were no plans to expand Russia’s Mediterranean fleet? My goodness… do you think… do you think it’s possible the Russians were being disingenuous.

Russia’s Aircraft Carrier to Visit Syrian Naval Base

Admiral Kuznetsov.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier will visit Moscow’s small naval base in Syria later this year, BBC Monitoring reported citing a newspaper published by the Russian government.

“At the end of the year, most likely in early December, the Project 11435 heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser the Admiral Kuznetsov will set off on a long-distance sea voyage during which it will call at the Russian Federation Navy’s logistical support centre located in the Syrian city of Tartus,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, BBC Monitoring reported on Saturday, citing a Russian-language report in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a newspaper run by the Russian government.

The article goes on to quote a Defense Ministry staffer as saying that the route of the vessel’s “long-distance sea voyage” was already set and it was therefore unlikely to be affected by the civil war in Syria. The Admiral Kuznetsov’s stopover in Tartus is “in no way connected” to the Syrian civil war Rossiyskaya Gazeta paraphrased the staffer as saying, according to BBC Monitoring.

The Admiral Kuznetsov is Russia’s only operational aircraft carrier. The article clarifies that Russia refers to the ship as an aircraft-carrying cruiser because “under international treaties aircraft carriers are banned from passing through the Bosporus and Dardanelles…. But this ban does not extend to aircraft-carrying cruisers.”

According to the article, the carrier can hold 50 airplanes and helicopters and comes equipped with “Granit antiship missiles, Kortik and Klinok surface-to-air missiles, and Udav antisubmarine warfare systems.” The article also reports that the Admiral Kuznetsov is 14,000 square meters and carries a crew of nearly 2,200 people including flight and technical personnel.

Earlier this year a Russian naval officer told Interfax that the Navy had decided to end the Admiral Kuznetsov’s scheduled maintenance early and deploy it on a mission that would include a stopover in the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia has established a permanent naval task force in response to the hostilities in the Middle East. That report did not specify whether it deployed to the Tartus military base in Syria, although speculation abounded.

As late as Friday Interfax reported that Russia’s Defense Ministry had told the newspaper that no decision had been made yet on whether the carrier would deploy to the Tartus base after it completes maintenance later this year.

The Admiral Kuznetsov previously made a port call at Tartus in January 2012 as part of a “naval carrier group” that was on a 43-day voyage in late 2011 and early 2012. After the naval carrier group returned, Russia’s defense minister at the time said the carrier group’s presence in the Mediterranean confirmed Russia’s status as a “great naval power.”

Russia has been beefing up its Mediterranean task force over the past week as the U.S. and France contemplate air strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria for its suspected chemical weapon attacks against civilians. Last week Russian military officials told Interfax that a missile cruiser from the Black Sea Fleet and a large anti-submarine ship usually attached to the North Fleet would deploy to the Mediterranean Sea in the coming days. It clarified that both deployments were routine and had nothing to do with the Syrian conflict.

On Sunday Interfax quoted an unnamed Russian military official as saying that the SSV-201 Priazovye, a reconnaissance ship, had left Sevastopol port in the Black Sea en route to the eastern Mediterranean where it would operate separately from the naval task force already there. Specifically, the military source said the reconnaissance ship’s mission would be “”to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict” in Syria, Reuters reported on Monday, citing the Interfax report.

The U.S. has also beefed up its naval presence off Syria’s Coast in the Mediterranean in anticipation of President Barack Obama ordering missile strikes against Syrian regime targets. Last week it was reported that the U.S. had five destroyers armed with cruise missiles stationed in the Mediterranean compared to the 3 it usually deploys to the region.

Additionally, the USS San Antonio (LPD-17), an amphibious transport dock with about a thousand Marines aboard (counting both troops and crew, according to the ship’s official website), was given orders to remain in the Mediterranean last week while it was traveling through the Red Sea on a regularly scheduled deployment. The ship can deliver 700-800 Marines on shore. U.S. officials described the decision to have the USS San Antonio remain in the region as a “precaution” and emphasized that there aren’t any plans to send U.S. Marines into Syria.

On Monday the U.S. Navy said that it had decided to station a carrier strike group centered around the USS Nimitz in the Red Sea as well, but added that there are no plans to use it in any Syrian contingency at this time. Along with the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, the carrier strike group includes four additional destroyers and one cruiser. The strike group was expected to return to the U.S. after being deployed in the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was re-routed to the Red Sea for “prudent positioning” purposes, U.S. officials told media outlets.

Although less acknowledged, the U.S. is almost certainly also operating submarines capable of launching cruise missiles in the region as well.

President Obama announced Saturday that he would ask Congress to support U.S. military action against Syria.

http://thediplomat.com/the-editor/2013/09/04/russias-aircraft-carrier-to-visit-syrian-naval-base/

Russia has no plans to expand Mediterranean Fleet

Honest. No plans. None whatsoever. Routine rotations… just routine rotations. Trust Volodya.

Russia Has No Plans to Expand Mediterranean Fleet – Source

MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s naval force in the Mediterranean Sea will not be expanded despite the worsening situation in the region, a military-diplomatic source in Moscow told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

Russia Has No Plans to Expand Mediterranean Fleet – Source

“There have been no orders to expand anything there, and there will not be. The strength and type of forces that we have in the Mediterranean Sea today are sufficient to keep us fully informed about what is happening,” the source said.

He also confirmed local media reports Monday that the electronic intelligence ship Priazovye is being sent to the region, but explained that this is part of regular rotation within Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

“Yes, we want to know what is happening in this key region in which Russia has serious interests. We want to see and know what is happening there, what to prepare for in this region,” the source added.

He also said Russia’s existing flotillas in the Mediterranean Sea are undergoing routine rotations, and stressed “this is a regular rotation process, planned at the start of the year.”

“Our military presence in this region predates the Syrian conflict, and will continue after it, and so it would be wrong to draw any connection between the rotation of our ships in the Mediterranean region and events in Syria,” RIA Novosti’s anonymous source added.

Russia Has No Plans to Expand Mediterranean Fleet – Source

http://en.rian.ru/military_news/20130903/183134100/Russia-Has-No-Plans-to-Expand-Mediterranean-Fleet–Source.html

US Navy medics conduct WMD decontamination exercise

130829-N-RN782-090 SIGONELLA, Sicily (Aug. 29, 2013) Hospital Corpsman stationed at U.S. Naval Hospital Sigonella process a training mannequin through a decontamination station during a decontamination training exercise at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella. NAS Sigonella provides logistical support for Commander, U.S. 5th and 6th Fleets and NATO forces in the Mediterranean area. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt/Released)

France dispatches frigate to join US and British naval forces poised for Syria strike

The French Navy has dispatched the Chevalier Paul (D621) to join multinational naval forces assembling for a possible strike on Syria. The Horizon-class air-defence frigate lacks its own strike capability, but will support the 4 US Navy cruise missile equipped destroyers and Royal Navy attack submarine/s currently on-station in the Eastern Mediterranean.

La frégate : Le Chevalier Paul quitte Toulon pour rejoindre la flotte internationale au large de la Syrie

La France décide d’envoyer au large de la Syrie une frégate, en l’occurence le Chevalier Paul. Elle doit rejoindre rejoindre la flotte internationale qui se trouve actuellement au large des côtes syriennes.

© Photo : Boris Horvat/AFP

Plusieurs bâtiments sont déjà sur place, prêts à intervenir, dès que l’ordre leur en sera donné : 4 frégates lance-missiles de l’US Navy et des sous-marins nucléaires d’attaque américains et britanniques.

© France3 Côte d’Azur

http://cote-d-azur.france3.fr/2013/08/29/la-fregate-le-chevalier-paul-quitte-toulon-pour-rejoindre-la-flotte-internationale-au-large-de-la-syrie-308641.html

Photo gallery: USS Barry (DDG 52) launching Tomahawk cruise missiles

110329-N-3396H-001 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 29, 2011) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile to support Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn. Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Monika Hess/Released)

110329-N-XO436-010 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 29, 2011) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk cruise missile to support Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn. Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman/Released)

110319-N-7293M-003 MEDITERANEAN SEA (March 19, 2011) Seen through night-vision lenses aboard amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), the guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya’s Mediterranean coast. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathanael Miller/Released)

110319-N-XO436-138 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March. 19, 2011) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn on March 19, 2011. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya’s Mediterranean coast. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman/Released)

110319-N-XO436-134 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March. 19, 2011) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn. This was one of approximately 110 cruise missiles fired from U.S. and British ships and submarines that targeted about 20 radar and anti-aircraft sites along Libya’s Mediterranean coast. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman/Released)

US Navy moves ships within striking rage of Syria

The US Navy has moved four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers within striking distance of Syria. The Mahan, Gravely, Barry and Ramage are equipped with the Mk 41 VLS that can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Block IV TLAM-E has a range of 900 nautical miles (1000 statute miles, 1600 km) and can strike Syrian military targets with precision.

US prepares to carry out military action against Syria

The US Navy has positioned its four destroyers near Syria, in preparation of carrying out military action against the war-torn country, according to a defence official.

The move follows the massive chemical attack by the Syria Government on rebels and civilians near Damascus, which killed hundreds of people.

The Washington Times has quoted an official as saying that the vessels USS Mahan, USS Gravely, USS Barry and USS Ramage, each equipped with up to 90 Tomahawk cruise missiles, are positioned in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Earlier, US President Barack Obama had met top national security advisors and ordered the intelligence community to gather facts and evidence to determine what occurred in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Syria Government has allowed the United Nations chemical weapons experts to examine the recent suspected chemical weapon attack allegations near Damascus, the capital of Syria.

The Syrian state news agency SANA quoted the country’s Information Minister Omran Zoabi as saying, to Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV, that “US military intervention will create a very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East.”

www.naval-technology.com/news/newsus-prepares-to-carry-out-military-action-against-syria

Royal Navy ready to launch cruise missile strikes on Syria

The Royal Navy is ready to launch cruise missile strikes on Syria.

OSINT indicates at least one Trafalgar class submarine operating in the Mediterranean, passing Gibraltar last week.

Navy ready to launch first strike on Syria

Britain is planning to join forces with America and launch military action against Syria within days in response to the gas attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people.


A couple mourn over the dead bodies of Syrian men after the alleged poisonous gas attack Photo: AP

Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalise a list of potential targets.

Government sources said talks between the Prime Minister and international leaders, including Barack Obama, would continue, but that any military action that was agreed could begin within the next week.

As the preparations gathered pace, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, warned that the world could not stand by and allow the Assad regime to use chemical weapons against the Syrian people “with impunity”.

Britain, the US and their allies must show Mr Assad that to perpetrate such an atrocity “is to cross a line and that the world will respond when that line is crossed”, he said.

British forces now look likely to be drawn into an intervention in the Syrian crisis after months of deliberation and international disagreement over how to respond to the bloody two-year civil war.

The possibility of such intervention will provoke demands for Parliament to be recalled this week.

The escalation comes as a direct response to what the Government is convinced was a gas attack perpetrated by Syrian forces on a civilian district of Damascus last Wednesday.

The Assad regime has been under mounting pressure to allow United Nations inspectors on to the site to establish who was to blame for the atrocity. One international agency said it had counted at least 355 people dead and 3,600 injured following the attack, while reports suggested the true death toll could be as high as 1,300.

Syrian state media accused rebel forces of using chemical agents, saying some government soldiers had suffocated as a result during fighting.

After days of delay, the Syrian government finally offered yesterday to allow a team of UN inspectors access to the area. However, Mr Hague suggested that this offer of access four days after the attack had come too late.

“We cannot in the 21st century allow the idea that chemical weapons can be used with impunity, that people can be killed in this way and that there are no consequences for it,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary said all the evidence “points in one direction”, to the use of illegal chemical agents by Assad regime forces.

A Government source added that even if UN inspectors visited the site of the attack, “we would need convincing by the UN team that this was not the regime’s attack because we believe everything points to the fact that it was”.

Officials said the Assad regime has continued bombarding the area in the days since the attack, making it likely that any evidence which could establish who was responsible will have been destroyed.

Mr Cameron interrupted his holiday in Cornwall for talks with Mr Obama, François Hollande, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. After discussions via a secure telephone line over the weekend, all the leaders agreed on the need for a “serious response”. Government sources confirmed that military action was among the options “on the table” but said no decisions had been taken.

The Prime Minister, however, is believed to have abandoned hope of securing any further meaningful response from the UN amid opposition from Russia.

Labour said Parliament must be recalled if Mr Cameron was considering a military response, but Downing Street sources said this may not be necessary as the Prime Minister retained the right to act urgently if required.

Mr Cameron will face criticism for any British military involvement from many MPs, who believe the Armed Forces are already overstretched and must not be committed to another distant conflict.

Any retaliatory attack would be likely to be launched from the sea as the Syrian air force is judged to be strong enough to shoot down enemy jets.

A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine is said to be in the region while a number of warships recently left Britain for exercises in the Mediterranean.

Commanders may also need to make use of the RAF base at Akrotiri, Cyprus for air support.

If military action is approved, the first wave of missiles could start within a week.

Military sources suggested the early hours of the 2011 campaign against Col Muammar Gaddafi could form a template for any operation. The Libya campaign began with a blitz of Tomahawk cruise missiles from US warships and from a British Trafalgar Class submarine.

The Royal Navy declined to comment on the current positions of its submarines, but they regularly pass through the area on their way to the Suez Canal.

America’s Sixth Fleet currently has four guided missile destroyers in the area, each of which could join the attack.

The Royal Navy also has its rapid response task force in the Mediterranean. The group includes two frigates and the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious.

Navy sources said there were no plans to change the exercises, but the group provided “strategic contingency” if needed.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10265765/Navy-ready-to-launch-first-strike-on-Syria.html

Israel on schedule to receive new submarines in 2014, 2017

The Israeli Defence Force will expand its submarine fleet to 6 Dolphin class boats by 2017.

Israel gets ready to expand its submarine fleet

HAIFA, Israel, July 29 (UPI) — The Israeli navy is getting ready to expand its fleet of German-built Dolphin-class submarines that are widely believed to give it the only seaborne nuclear missile capability in the Middle East.

Three early-model Dolphins are already in service and reportedly range as far as the Indian Ocean south of Iran. But the navy’s moving closer to deploying two more of the 1,720-ton, diesel-electric boats built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in the Baltic port of Kiel. HWD is a unit of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

The fourth Dolphin, christened the Tanin, was handed over to the Israeli navy by HDW in May 2012 and is due to become operational within the next few months following sea tests and evaluation.

The fifth boat, the Rahav, was launched in Kiel April 29 and is expected to arrive in Israel’s northern port of Haifa, the submarine fleet’s headquarters and main base, around mid-2014.

A contract for a sixth Dolphin, the most advanced of the series, was signed with the German government in May 2012 after differences over payment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also imposed a series of political conditions on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, including unblocking $100 million a month in customs duties imposed on the Palestinian Authority and other funds blocked by Israel.

The sixth Dolphin is scheduled to reach Israel in 2017.

Little information on the Dolphin operations is ever released, though it is general understood that with the current three boats operational, one is on patrol in the Red Sea or Indian Ocean, covering Iran and its gunrunning routes to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

One is at Haifa on refit, while the third is cruising the Mediterranean.

After the Israelis supposedly knocked out an arms depot outside the Syrian port and naval base at Latakia July 5, where the regime was said to be storing ship-killing, Russian-supplied P-800 Yakhont missiles, there were reports — never substantiated — that a Dolphin in the Mediterranean had unleashed a broadside of land-attack missiles on the site.

The Dolphins carry conventional versions of the Popeye Turbo cruise missile for that kind of mission. These are manufactured by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

The navy adapted the original air-launched version of the Popeye for the Dolphin force. The U.S. Navy tracked a secret Israeli submarine-launched Popeye test in the Indian Ocean in 2002 in which the missile hit a target at a range of nearly 950 miles.

The Dolphins, based on the design of HDW’s U-209 class sub, have a range of about 2,700 miles, although this has been likely extended in the three advanced models Israel’s now getting.

Expanding the Jewish state’s submarine force from three units to six is no trivial matter since it will involve finding and training men for the Dolphins, which usually carry 35-man crews.

These systems will form the navy’s strategic spearhead that will add immense firepower to Israel’s nuclear triad of air-, land- and sea-based weapons, which in the event of war with Iran over its contentious nuclear program would play a vital role in taking out nuclear facilities or other strategic targets.

Manning the new Dolphins, and having backup crews for rotations, will have to be implemented without weakening the quality of existing crews.

The Israeli military’s Bamachaneh magazine reports that the number of personnel selected for submarine warfare has grown by 30 percent in recent recruitment intakes.

According to published reports in Israel, that’s a significant shift in a country where the arm and the air force traditionally have been given precedence when it comes to top-quality recruits.

Israel’s Arutz Sheva news outlet reported that more officers are being trained for submarine posts and the number of cadets who will be trained for submarine command has been rising by 35 percent.

The head of the navy’s high school outreach program, identified only as Maj. Yisrael, said the project began in 2012 as the new subs were still being built in Kiel. He expects about 30 percent of the young sailors who attend a five-day introductory program at the Naval Instruction Base at Haifa this year will reach the navy’s training course phase after enlisting.

The major told one group of 11th-graders: “To serve in submarines is unique … . This is all-important work but it won’t be publicized and submarine crew members can’t tell anyone what they do.”

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2013/07/29/Israel-gets-ready-to-expand-its-submarine-fleet/UPI-14761375130539/