Russia is modernizing its submarine force around Europe to directly challenge American naval dominance — greater than any other period since the Cold War, Admiral James Foggo told Stars and Stripes in an interview last week.
The commander said the U.S. must expand its naval force, along with enhancing its submarine fleet to combat Russian aggression in the region.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have never been higher. According to a new report from the United States Naval Institute(USNI), the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), the eighth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, has exited the Mediterranean Sea and is now patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, an unnamed defense official recently told USNI.
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) conducts a strait transit. Truman is currently deployed as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in international waters around the globe on April 27, 2018. (Source: US Navy Photo/USNI)
Earlier this week, the Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)/Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1), a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier air wing based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, and its support vessels sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.
UNCONFIRMED REPORT USS Harry S. Truman, CVN 75, left the Mediterranean Sea after passing the Strait of Gibraltar, Interfax reported, citing data from systems monitoring the movement of sea-going vessels. pic.twitter.com/ZzEFCq52jI
— SeaWaves Magazine (@seawaves_mag) June 28, 2018
— IXEscuadrillaVirtual (@EscuelaAeronav) June 29, 2018
“As a matter of longstanding policy, we do not discuss future operations, but I can tell you that the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group will continue to conduct operations in support of our NATO allies, European and African partner nations, coalition partners, and U.S. national security interests,” Cmdr. John Perkins, a spokesman with U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told USNI News.
USNI believes the shifting of U.S. naval assets to the Atlantic Ocean is the expression of two themes: remain superior over Russia and be strategically predictable and operationally unpredictable.
Russia’s Navy, as a whole, is still dealing with underinvestment following the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, in recent years, Putin has modernized the military with new attack submarines to alter the balance of naval power with NATO. USNI pointed out that these Russian high-tech submarines are being deployed in the “North Atlantic at a pace not seen since the Cold War,” which has alarmed NATO officials.
“Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict,” current U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander Adm. James Foggo wrote in U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings in 2016.
“Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.”
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), told USNI that USS Harry S. Truman is operating in the Atlantic for all 29 NATO members.
“Our Atlantic coast guys need a chance to train against good submariners,” he said. “Either they’re it doing with the French or the British for training or for hope of finding a Russian submarine.”
USNI details the composition of the carrier strike group. It says “up to six guided-missile destroyers and the German Navy guided missile frigate FGS Hessen (F 221)” will be accompanying USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic.
Clark said, “the U.S. DDGs are equipped with an effective anti-submarine warfare packages that work well in the Atlantic but aren’t typically deployed there”.
“You have to make a special effort to put them there,” he added.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson also hinted on an increased presence of Russian submarine activity in the Atlantic.
“It’s an aspect of the security environment that it’s getting harder to do things without being observed, no matter where you are. So we’re going to have to be clever about that,” he told USNI News last month.
A U.S. Navy official told USNI on Friday that “the Navy is making deliberate prioritization decisions in accordance with the [national defense strategy] which may disrupt the ‘business as usual’.”
“We must prioritize lethality, deterrence capability, training and readiness of the defined fighting unit, and will ensure the mission is met with the right capability and platform,” the unnamed defense official told USNI.
Back in May, we covered a stunning piece indicating the U.S. Navy reactivated its Second Fleet to counter the increasing threat from Russia.
Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said the fleet, deactivated in 2011, could oversee roughly 6,700,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean from the North Pole to the Caribbean Sea and from the East Coast of the United States to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
While the U.S. Navy did not officially acknowledge the USS Harry S. Truman’s mission in the Atlantic to hunt Russian submarines, the probability that Moscow and Washington could be headed for a collision in the Atlantic has exponentially increased.