High-tech spy vessel carries cable-cutting gear, mini-subs
U.S. intelligence ships, aircraft, and satellites are closely watching a Russian military vessel in the Atlantic that has been sailing near a U.S. nuclear missile submarine base and underwater transit routes, according to Pentagon officials.
The Russian research ship Yantar has been tracked from the northern Atlantic near Canada since late August as it makes its way south toward Cuba.
Defense officials familiar with reports on the Russian ship say the Yantar is believed to be gathering intelligence on underwater sensors and other equipment used by U.S. nuclear submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia. The submarines, their transit lanes, and training areas stretch from the coastal base through the Atlantic to Europe.
Intelligence analysts believe the ship, one of Russia’s newest military research vessels commissioned earlier this year, is part of a larger strategic intelligence-gathering operation against U.S. nuclear missile submarines and other targets.
One official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, said the ship is a concern because it is equipped with deep-sea surveillance craft and cable-cutting equipment.
In addition to cutting or tapping into undersea cables, the Yantar’s gear also could be used to rescue submarines if they become entangled in underwater cables.
A second defense official said the Yantar’s mission is not only to prepare to disrupt underwater communications. The ship is also part of a Russian underwater reconnaissance program to identify undersea communications trunk lines and nodes.
A major target of the program is the Department of Defense Information Network, known as DoDIN. Moscow is seeking to map the global information network that is vital for U.S. warfighters and policymakers and is a key target of Russian information warfare efforts.
The network includes dedicated military links as well as leased communications and computer systems.
Another concern related to the sea-based intelligence activities is that Russia has been adopting new warfighting techniques the Pentagon has dubbed hybrid warfare.
Hybrid conflict combines traditional military capabilities with information warfare techniques, such as cyber attacks. The disabling of undersea Internet cables could be a part of future hybrid warfare attacks as nations become increasingly reliant on global information networks, officials said.
“The ship carries the latest, most innovative equipment for acoustic, biological, physical, and geophysical surveys,” the report said.
“The Yantar is equipped with a unique on-board scientific research complex which enables it to collect data on the ocean environment, both in motion and on hold. There are no similar complexes anywhere,” said Alexei Burilichev, director of deepwater research at the Russian Defense Ministry, Sputnik reported.
Officials said another factor increasing U.S. concerns about Russian reconnaissance is Moscow’s recent adoption of a new military doctrine that places a greater reliance on strategic nuclear forces.
In addition to research ships, Russia’s military also is building a new class of intelligence-gathering and electronic warfare ships called Yuri Ivanov-class vessels.
Germany’s Bilt [sic] newspaper reported last month that the new spy ships are designed to track and follow U.S. warships. The ships will also provide communications and fleet management, conduct electronic warfare capabilities, and gather radio and electronic intelligence. The first ship was launched in July and three others are planned.
Full article: U.S. Shadowing Russian Ship in Atlantic Near Nuclear Submarine Areas (Washington Free Beacon)