A major Russian daily newspaper on Friday revealed a classified incident wherein a Russian battleship located and tracked a 'stealth' US nuclear powered submarine.
It reportedly took place last April, near in time to when the US, UK, and France launched massive strikes from air and sea on targets in and around Damascus in response to the alleged government chemical attack on Douma.
The popular Russian-language daily Izvestia newspaper revealed the story, citing a source in the Russian Navy. While not itself state-owned, the historic newspaper was in the past owned by Gazprom prior to being sold, and has long had close ties to the government.
Currently it's impossible to independently verify the claims, but if true, it would be of monumental importance as it follows recent statements by Pentagon officials sounding the alarm over the rapid pace of Russian and Chinese advances in defense technology, including things like hypersonic weapons.
The frigate ‘Admiral Essen’ of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Image source: Sputnik via Izvestia newspaper
On Tuesday Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said, "You can't call them [Russia and China] our friends if they're building weapons that can destroy the United States of America and, therefore, we have to develop the capability to respond."
A key part of the Pentagon's strategic edge over Russia is its superiority in the area of stealth systems, thus if the Russian claims are true, it would send tremors among Washington defense planners as this would constitute a serious breach in defense and maneuverability capability for America's most advanced aircraft, ships and submarines.
Russian state-owned RT News translated sections of the exclusive Izvestia story, and describes the claimed April incident as follows:
The frigate Admiral Essen of the Russian Black Sea Fleet managed to track down one of the Ohio-class submarines currently in service with the US Navy, Izvestia newspaper revealed on Friday, citing a source in the Russian Navy. The Russian ship left Sevastopol, a major Black Sea port located on the Crimean Peninsula, on March 13 and returned on June 30. The frigate was deployed most of the time in the Mediterranean Sea.
RT touts the claimed success of the operation, echoing military sources, as follows:
The pursuit lasted more than two hours, during which the Russian ship recorded the basic parameters of the American submarine, which will be deciphered and added to the acoustic characteristics of the submarine...
Even locating a submarine in the sea is a great success, Vladimir Ambartsumyan, who once served as a commander on the naval brigade within the Russian Northern Fleet, told Izvestia. “Nuclear submarines are complex objects for detection,” he told the paper.
The US Department of Defense has yet to respond to the claims, and if it does will likely blast the Russian military-sourced claims as false.
The original Izvestia newspaper story speculates that the submarine in question might have been the USS Georgia, which can carry over one-hundred-fifty guided cruise missiles, and is believed to have taken part in the US coalition's April Tomahawk missile attack on Damascus.
Russian sources speculate that the Kremlin tracked the USS Georgia (SSGN 729), an Ohio Class Nuclear Powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine. Image source: Wiki Commons via
The Admiral Essen has conducted active operations in the Mediterranean since 2017, when Russia launched cruise missile strikes on Islamic State positions in northern Syria.
RT cited US military data on Ohio-class submarines, which is believed to have been the type of stealth sub tracked, as armed with “tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities” and able to launch an “unprecedented strike” from a “stealthy, clandestine platform,” and further capable of “launching missile strikes and supporting Special Operation Forces (SOF) missions.”
It will be interesting to see if the story gains momentum in and outside Russia, potentially leading to the Kremlin being asked to produce any available evidence proving the story.