For the second time in three months Bill Gertz at The Washington Free Beacon claims to have sources confirming a Russian nuclear submarine was sailing near the U.S. coast.
Gertz is a renowned Washington defense insider and says the most recent spotting of a Russian Sierra-2 class submarine, believed to be with Russia’s Northern Fleet, happened as Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast.
This would be the first time a Sierra-2 class attack submarine has been detected near a U.S. coastline and if the report is true, shows Russia is determined to regain its naval projection power.
The Russian vessel is said to have been conducting anti-submarine exercises near the U.S. submarine base Kings Bay in Georgia, but did not threaten a nearby U.S. aircraft carrier strike group. Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, north of Jacksonville, Fla., is homeport for two guided missile submarines and six nuclear missile submarines. The submarines are known to be a target of Russian attack submarines.
Meanwhile, the officials also said that a Russian electronic intelligence-gathering vessel was granted safe harbor in the commercial port of Jacksonville, Fla., within listening range of Kings Bay.
The Russian AGI ship, or Auxiliary-General Intelligence, was allowed to stay in the port to avoid the superstorm that battered the U.S. East Coast last week. A Jacksonville Port Authority spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the Russian AGI at the port.
The last of its class, the titanium hulled Sierra’s were advanced at the time of their launch in 1992, moreso than Western designs, but they were expensive and very few were produced. This would be only one of two active Sierra-2 subs still in active service, both with Russia’s Northern Fleet.
The Sierra carries two types of anti-submarine and torpedoes that it can replace with 42 naval mines.
The Beacon reported in August that an Akula class Russian submarine sailed into the Gulf of Mexico. That story was widely circulated as proof of Obama’s failure to reset Russian relations, and illustrate the crippling nature of looming U.S. defense cuts.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert wrote of that incident to Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) saying “based on all of the source information available to us, a Russian submarine did not enter the Gulf of Mexico.”