Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Krab" - The Little Tug That Could

Locations of "Krab" Operations, August 20-September 3, 2014
There's a very interesting little harbor tug operating in the Black Sea named "Krab". Flying the Russian Navy flag, it's based in Temryuk (Sea of Azov), but regularly visits Novorossiysk. It was built at Pella Shipyard in 2011 and transferred via the inland waterway system to Temryuk, where it arrived in October of that year. Originally called "RB-45" ("RB" stands for "рейдовый буксир" - "harbor tug" in Russian), it was renamed "Krab" in 2012 or 2013.

Since arriving in the Black Sea, the harbor tug has performed mission profiles that go beyond what you would expect a harbor tug to perform. In fact, in late July 2013, during the keel-laying ceremony for the Project 16609-class harbor tug "Belukha", Vice Admiral Burilichev (head of the Ministry of Defense's uber-secret Directorate for Deep-Sea Research (Russian abbreviation: GUGI)) stated that "Krab" and two other harbor tugs built by Pella were performing tasks not typical for their class. In this video (1:53-2:57), the vice admiral states:
The ships that were delivered in 2011 and 2012... I am happy to report that they are being used a lot. Moreover, we are using them not exactly as intended - not as harbor tugs for operations with ocean- and sea-going vessels. We are using them as integrated platforms for testing radio-technical equipment. And, the tug "Krab" is currently participating in events related to providing security for the 2014 Olympic Games. The [Project 16609] tugs "Kasatka" and "Delfin" participate in training events related to rescuing and assisting submarines in distress. They also are assigned other serious tasks that go far beyond those of harbor tugs.
I recorded the movements of "Krab" between August 20 and September 3 of this year to give you a glimpse into just one unusual mission the harbor tug has performed. It clearly shows the tug executing ladder search patterns from the western to the eastern sides of the inlet to Tsemesskaya Bukhta, which leads to Novorossiysk. The blue conex box that is found on its afterdeck possibly contains the mysterious radio-technical equipment that Burilichev referenced in the above video.

And wherever "Krab" goes, you're likely to find another interesting GUGI-subordinate vessel named "Seliger"...