|Udaloy I destroyer "Admiral Panteleyev" - undated|
On February 4, a Russian Navy Pacific Fleet surface action group led by Udaloy I-class destroyer "Admiral Panteleyev" departed Vladivostok for what was supposed to be a three-month deployment. That deployment has now stretched into its fifth month, and no one knows for sure when it will return to its home port.
The group, which also includes two auxiliary vessels (Dubna tanker "Pechenga" and Goryn rescue tug "SB-522"), was reported to be conducting training in the South China Sea a week later. The group was supposed to arrive in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, but that port call never happened due to changes in operational plans, according to an anonymous source.
Following a short port call in Sattahip, Thailand, in early March, a six-day port call in Langkawa, Malaysia, in mid-March, and a brief port call in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in late march, "Admiral Panteleyev" and its support vessels headed into the Indian Ocean. The official story ends when the ships departed Colombo on April 1.
The reason the Russian MOD has not released any new information on the group's whereabouts may be connected to the mission it is currently performing. On April 12, the MOD announced that Black Sea Fleet Vishnya intelligence collection ship SSV-201 "Priazovye" was involved in evacuating combat zone refuges from Yemen to Djibouti, even though the spy ship's participation began at least two weeks earlier. If the "Admiral Panteleyev" group were some how involved in an ongoing humanitary mission, one might expect the MOD to publicly tout the destroyer's efforts. But there has only been silence.
Social media, on the other hand, has provided a few clues. In early May, the destroyer was reportedly anchored near Africa, but not in a port. In early June, "Pechenga" made a port call in Salalah, Oman, to take on supplies before returning to the destroyer's location. It seems the destroyer hadn't moved from the same anchorage at which it arrived in May. While the exact whereabouts remain a mystery, according to one source, the ship is supposed to conduct a port call - somewhere - in the coming days. As for when it might return to Vladivostok, one source indicated mid-August as a likely time frame.
What is "Admiral Panteleyev" doing that is so secret?