According to a recent statement from Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone of the British Royal Navy, Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic Ocean has spiked to levels similar to those of the Cold War in recent months. Russia has also recently been engaged in a general program of rebuilding its submarine programs.
Admiral Johnstone’s statement echoes reports from several NATO submarine captains who have noted an increase in the frequency of Russian naval drills involving submarine movements. Johnstone, who is also NATO’s highest naval officer and commander of the alliance’s maritime branch, made the increased activity known during an address to the international defensive analytical group IHS Jane’s. His address to the group, best known as the publisher of the annual naval reference guide Jane’s Fighting Ships, included his opinion that the increased activity was accompanied by “a level of Russian capability that we haven’t seen before.”
Russia has recently been reinvesting its military capabilities into the updating of existing submarines, as well as the construction of new classes of modern submarines. The Borei class of submarines, a smaller and more economical replacement for the former Soviet Union’s iconic Typhoon class, have been in regular naval use for several years, with three new units currently in production. Russia’s new Yasen-class submarines have also gradually replaced the former Akula and Akula II classes as the predominant attack submarine class. Late in 2015, plans for a miniature self-propelled torpedo capable of being mounted onto these newer classes of submarines were accidentally shown during a brief shot on Russian state television.
Despite the known presence of the Russian navy in many parts of the world, the recent increase in submarine activity has been largely a phenomenon of the North Atlantic, prompting many in NATO’s command to compare it to the activity that was seen in the later days of the Cold War. Johnstone has also noted that Russia has not invited any NATO nation or ally to participate in its exercises. Despite this, neither Johnstone nor any other NATO commander has suggested that the increased activity is in any way a prelude to a military action.
Public domain, US Department of Defense produced. Obtained via Wikimedia Commons
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