Friday, August 7, 2015

Russian Combatant Participates in Suez Canal Opening Ceremony

If you were watching coverage of today's opening of the new Suez Canal, you were probably surprised to see that the Russian Navy was quietly represented in the ceremony by the Baltic Fleet's Tarantul-class patrol combatant "R-32" (visible at 1:47:55, 1:49:11, 1:52:09, 1:55:47, and 1:56:11; see screenshots at the bottom of this post). Neither the RF Ministry of Defense nor the Baltic Fleet made any prior announcements that the patrol ship would be visiting Egypt or participating in the celebrations.

So, when did "R-32" arrive in Egypt? Polish amateur radio operator Tomasz Golojuch may have provided the only clue in this July 28 tweet:

While Tomasz provided no other data, the presence of "SB-921" (a Baltic Fleet Sliva-class tug) in Egypt last week suggests the possibility that "SB-921" is supporting "R-32" during its unannounced deployment.

"R-32" spotted in Baltiysk in early July 2015
(credit: Lex Kitaev)
The participation of a Russian combatant in today's was surely arranged to coincide with Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev's visit to Egypt and attendance at today's ceremony.

Where will "SB-921" and "R-32" head to next?