Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Follow-Up 1: Where in the World is "Aleksandr Nevskiy"?

Since "Aleksandr Nevskiy" departed Gadzhiyevo in mid-August for its interfleet transfer, Russia's three main news outlets have all taken a stab at reporting when the submarine will arrive in Rybachiy. Below is a summary of their reports.

Note: In Russia, a calendar month can be broken into three 10-day periods, known as a dekada. Thus, the first dekada equates to the first 10 days of the month, and so on.

  • Source: "source familiar with the situation"
  • Comment 1: "arrival in Vilyuchinsk is expected in the early part of the third dekada in September" -- This would roughly equate to September 21-24.
  • Comment 2: "[source] linked the submarine's interfleet transfer to the actions of a number of Northern Fleet ships currently operating along the Northern Sea Route" -- This seems unlikely, as the Northern Fleet ships, as in previous years, are likely hugging Russia's northern coastline to avoid frequent interaction with ice, while the submarine should be operating under the ice.
  • Source: "fleet headquarters source"
  • Comment 1: "departed Gadzhiyevo on August 15" -- That seems to be incorrect based on the previous blog entry showing crew members updating their social media accounts through August 18.
  • Comment 2: "expected in [Rybachiy] in the second dekada of the month" -- This would equate to September 11-20.

  • Source: "highly placed Pacific Fleet HQ source"
  • Comment 1: "will arrive in Kamchatka, as planned, in the third dekada of September" -- This would equate to September 21-30.
  • Comment 2: "Vladimir Monomakh" will arrive in Kamchatka either in late 2015 or in 2016 -- This is a strange statement for two reasons. First, under-ice transfers appear to be timed to coincide with the period when the ice edge has receded to its farthest northern point in a given year. Thus, an under-ice transfer later than October seems unreasonable. Second, all previous statements (albeit unofficial) on the transfer of "Vladimir Monomakh" indicated the submarine will transfer in the fall of 2016. That being said, there have been a few instances of submarines transferring between the two fleets via a southern route: Atlantic Ocean > Drake Passage > Pacific Ocean. This route was used in February-March 1966 for the transfer of two nuclear-powered boats, an Echo II and a November. It was also used for the transfer of two Delta III-class ballistic missile submarines in January-April 1979.
As the above shows, all of the sources had incorrect or highly implausible information that suggests the dates they provided are speculative and may or may not be backed up by any substantive knowledge of the transfer. The fact that the Interfax and RIA Novosti sources both stated the submarine will arrive in Rybachiy in the third dekada is probably just a coincidence. And if "Aleksandr Nevskiy" arrives during the second dekada, it doesn't necessarily mean TASS' source actually knew that time frame to be true when he (or she) provided the information to TASS.

When it comes to any media outlet anywhere in the world... beware of anonymous sources, despite any official-sounding job title attributed to them.