US Navy Commanders are concerned that the emerging patterns of Russian nuclear submarine deployment off the US coast could threaten American security.
Newsweek reported earlier this week that commanders and military observers are raising the alarm over Russian submarine fleet activity off the coast of the United States.
According to officials, Russian submarines have also been spotted more frequently in the Mediterranean and near the shores of the United States. This is besides the Russian preoccupation with the Ukraine war and the subsequent build-up of Russian forces and nuclear submarines in the Black Sea.
Michael Peterson, director of the Russia Maritime Studies Institute (RMSI), which researches the Russian military, said: “There are indications that “nuclear-powered submarines have been deploying off the coast of the United States and into the Mediterranean and elsewhere along Europe periphery.”
Peterson added that the Russian deployments resembled Soviet-style submarine tactics in the Cold War era.
This becomes more perceptible in light of the announcement made the Russian President Vladimir Putin while he oversaw the commissioning of a few vessels, including the Generalissimus Suvorov nuclear-powered submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles.
Putin said his country would build more nuclear-powered submarines, “ensuring Russia’s security for decades to come.” This is also compatible with the assessment that Russia has continued to work on expanding its nuclear submarine fleet.
According to military experts, the exact scale of Russian nuclear submarine deployment remains unclear, but it has certainly seen a massive uptick in the last two decades.
Russia has continued ramping up its submarine capability and has been conducting tests with its nuke-capable Belgorod submarine, which can launch Underwater Unmanned Vehicles (UUV).
In January this year, reports indicated that Belgorod completed a series of tests of the Poseidon torpedo mock-up, hailed as a ‘super weapon.’
Russia’s Nuclear Submarines Are Everywhere!
The Russian Navy boasts the most diverse submarine fleets in the world. As a crucial component of its strategic deterrent, Moscow views some of these submarines as being able to launch ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
Ever since the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, the country has been relentlessly working on upgrading its submarine force. Particularly in the last several years, Moscow has developed numerous submarines that can reach the most strategic targets in the United States and continental Europe.
With an estimated 58 vessels, the Russian Navy oversees one of the world’s largest submarine fleets. However, these vessels can be deployed worldwide, alarming US Commanders and challenging the US Naval influence.
An alarm was also sounded by the director of US Northern Command and NORAD, US Air Force General Glen VanHerck, who issued a warning last October over the increasing number of nuclear-powered Severodvinsk-class submarines off the shores of the US. The Commander also warned that Russia posed the biggest threat to the nation.
“They just moved subs, their first [Severodvinsk submarine] into the Pacific,” VanHerck told the Association of the US Army Conference. “Another [Severodvinsk] is out in the Mediterranean right now, and another that’s out on its way into the Atlantic. That will be a persistent, proximate threat capable of carrying many land-attack cruise missiles that can threaten our homeland.”
A month before VanHerck’s comments, OSINT and naval analyst HI Sutton had claimed that Russian Navy forces had been bolstered in the Mediterranean. This could be significant given the region’s strategic importance in the US calculations. Further, the US has been attempting to reinforce its presence in the Mediterranean.
Further, Rear Adm. Michael Studeman, the Office of Naval Intelligence commander, highlighted the risk posed by Russia’s Severodvinsk SSGNs, or the Yasen-class as it is popularly known.
Studeman said, “Those subs are “very, very advanced,” have “multi-mission capabilities” and are increasingly active.
Russian submarines are also present in the Pacific and the Atlantic. Studeman said in his remarks that these submarines have started undertaking patrols in the Atlantic, holding the United States in danger in certain regions.
Thus, he added that tracking those submarines and their actions would be a dual-flank issue for the United States.
Earlier, a Russian military journal recently claimed that the US had “apparently” prepared plans to strike and neutralize Russia because of concerns it might be losing its global dominance.
To combat this presumable threat, the journal suggested that Moscow could develop a novel military strategy using nuclear weapons to deter potential American aggression. Ever since Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine, the use of nuclear weapons has become a recurrent discussion, with the nuclear threat never entirely off the table.
Russia has continued to venture its nuclear submarines into far seas despite a full-blown war being fought close to home. Although military observers believe the Ukraine war would slow the formidable Russian Navy down for a couple of years, the current deployments are alarming the Pentagon.