Heavy storm exposes Russian Syria-based spy ship off Israel shore

debkafile‘s military sources reveal that the Russian Amur 1 Class PM 138 naval boat, caught up in the heavy storm raging across the Middle East and Mediterranean last week, flashed a distress signal Tuesday Feb. 19. The vessel was on its way from a Syrian port to Sevastopol on the Black Sea when it was thrown off course by the high seas. A Greek Navy frigate responded to the call and escorted the PM 138 to the island of Chios.
The Russian Navy spokesmen said the ship’s crew numbered 99. It was unarmed and was heading for home port after a long stay at one of the Syrian Navy’s Mediterranean bases.
Certain facts were accidentally disclosed as a result of the storm, debkafile‘s military sources point out:
1. Russian naval vessels are spending long periods running into months at the Syrian military bases of Latakia and Tartous.
2. Witnesses in Greece say the vessel, described officially as an auxiliary repair craft, boasted an unusual number of antennas for gathering intelligence. Its mission was clearly to gather information on Israeli military and naval movements while cruising opposite the Israeli coast.
Our sources add that, in recent months, the Russian Admiral Kutznetsov carrier with 47 Su-33 fighter-bombers and 10 helicopters on its decks visited one of the Syrian naval bases, along with the huge Moskva missile cruiser.
Israel officials prefer to ignore this mounting Russian naval presence to the north so as not to mar relations with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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