Russia Deploys to Mediterranean Large Fleet of Stealth Submarines
Russia has deployed up to a dozen diesel electric submarines in the eastern Mediterranean, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report. It is feared that their heavy, silent presence will interfere with the American, British, Israeli and other Western subs regularly plying those waters in pursuit of their security interests. Therefore, some arrangement with Moscow is needed to keep the various submarine fleets out of each other’s way, on the same lines as the agreements the US and Israel reached with Russia to avert air collisions over Syria.
The Rostov-on Don is the command vessel of the fleet of submarines, which NATO has dubbed “Black Holes” because they are reputed to be the most silent underwater vessels in the world.
They can move around virtually undetected. The Kalibr cruise missiles they carry can penetrate complex air defenses and reach targets at supersonic speed at a distance of 2,000km. A Kalibr missile was last year fired from the Caspian Sea against an Islamic State target in Syria.
Weighing in at 4,000 tons, the Russian stealth sub is small enough to maneuver in shallow waters with its deadly load of 533mm torpedoes. It can remain at sea for 45 days, has a top underwater speed of 20 knots (37kmph), and can dive to a depth of 300 meters.
In December last year, Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, warned: “We are observing the manifestation of a more aggressive, more capable Russian Navy. And they are signaling us and warning us that the maritime domain is contested.”
His words were prophetic. On Feb. 20, Russia Naval Command sources in Moscow announced that Russian corvettes armed with Kalibr cruise missiles were sailing from the Black Sea to the eastern Mediterranean “tasked with supporting anti-terrorist operations in Syria.”