|Depictions of area closures [Courtesy: Google Earth; Data: GEBCO, NGA, NOAA, SIO, U.S. Navy]|
Russian Navy public affairs officers must be on extended summer vacations, because they haven't been churning out press releases on a major exercise off the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russian Far East) set to commence as early as this Thursday. I mean, with all these recent reports of ghost submarines
appearing off Russian coastlines, someone's got to be in the office -- those intelligence leaks didn't just happen by themselves. [More on the ghost submarines in a later blog entry.]
Two area closures have been announced for August 28 through September 5:
- HYDROPAC 2470/14 (larger area closure)
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS 2000Z TO 0800Z COMMENCING
DAILY 28, 29 AUG, 04 AND 05 SEP
IN AREA BOUND BY
50-06-18N 161-38-54E, 50-34-48N 160-14-30E,
51-23-54N 159-44-24E, 52-16-24N 158-31-30E,
53-05-48N 160-01-48E, 51-28-54N 163-34-00E,
51-08-18N 163-18-30E, 50-16-12N 162-11-00E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 060900Z SEP 14.//
Authority: NAVAREA XIII 77/14 230915Z AUG 14.
Cancel: 06090000 Sep 14
- HYDROPAC 2482/14 (smaller area closure)
WESTERN NORTH PACIFIC.
1. GUNNERY EXERCISES 1900Z TO 0800Z COMMENCING
DAILY 30 AUG THRU 03 SEP IN AREA BETWEEN
52-30N 52-41N AND 159-44E 160-07E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 040900Z SEP 14.//
Authority: NAVAREA XIII 79/14 250916Z AUG 14.
Cancel: 04090000 Sep 14
So, what's happening here? According to internet chatter, the following surface combatants recently transited (or soon might) from the Pacific Fleet's main naval base in Vladivostok to ports on the Kamchatka Peninsula (arriving on August 25):
- Slava-class cruiser "Varyag"
- Sovremennyy-class destroyer "Bystryy" (may have engine problems)
- Udaloy I-class destroyers "Admiral Panteleyev", "Admiral Vinogradov", and "Marshal Shaposhnikov" (the latter will join up in September)
- Grisha III-class light frigate "Kholmsk"
- Grisha V-class light frigate "Sovetskaya Gavan"
The large area closure is well suited for the SS-N-12/Sandbox and SS-N-22/Sunburn anti-ship cruise missiles fired by the Slava and Sovremennyy, respectively.
Is this the start of this year's premier military exercise - Vostok-2014? Previous mentions of Vostok-2014 only indicated that the exercise would occur in September, and most recently, in mid-September
. And one netizen wrote, "[Vostok-2014] will last the entire month of September." Military public affairs officers oddly have not provided more definitive dates. If this week's events aren't part of Vostok-2014, then they certainly are meant to prepare ships' crews for it.
Also, according to internet chatter, many of these combatant ships will be away from Vladivostok for up to one month, leaving them plenty of time to conduct additional combat drills. This tidbit of information could confirm the "visible" (to the media) part of Vostok-2014 exercise will occur mid- or late September. We'll need to track President Putin's and Minister of Defense Shoygu's travel schedules over the next few weeks.
As for non-naval participation in Vostok-2014, internet chatter indicates elements of the 38th Separate Motorized-Rifle Brigade have deployed (or soon will) to the Kamchatka Peninsula. About a dozen or so Su-27SM and Su-35 fighters (from Dzemgi and/or Uglovaya) have been deployed there since at least mid-August.
Furthermore, according to internet chatter and somewhat confirmed by this company-press-release-turned-news-article
, "Varyag" will continue on an extended deployment to the Indian Ocean following the Vostok-2014 exercise. The deployment has been described by one source as lasting up to six months -- unsure if that six-month counter started when "Varyag" left Vladivostok, or if it will start after Vostok-2014 is over. In either case, a sailor on board the cruiser reported recently that he is going on a deployment that will last until February 2015 during which "Varyag" will make port calls in Indonesia, Singapore, (South?) Korea, and two other unnamed ports.