Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Petr Velikiy" Heads for Norwegian Sea ASW Exercise

Possible antisubmarine warfare exercise area closure in Norwegian Sea - December 7-20, 2014
According to a December 8 Western Military District press release, Northern Fleet Kirov-class nuclear-powered cruiser "Petr Velikiy" departed port in the past few days and is heading to an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) exercise. According to Vice Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov (Chief of Staff, Northern Fleet), "a feature of this event is the area where it will be conducted - farther away and with more difficult hydrological conditions than in those areas where we regularly conduct such training." The ASW exercise area is further defined as being "in neutral waters in a training range of a far maritime zone on the border of the Norwegian and Greenland Seas."

While there is only the general description of the ASW exercise area, the following area closure, which was announced last week, seems to match that description in terms of location:

HYDROARC 350/2014    
DNC 21, DNC 22.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS 072100Z TO 202100Z DEC IN AREA BETWEEN 75-00N 72-00N AND 007-00E 012-00E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 202200Z DEC 14.

Other participants of the training event, which will last several days, will include "several Northern Fleet submarines of various classes," shipborne KA-27 Helix helicopters, and IL-38 May and TU-142 Bear F long-range, fixed-wing ASW aircraft. At the conclusion of the event, "Petr Velikiy" is scheduled to launch torpedoes and depth bombs.

While Kirov is not the first surface combatant that comes to mind when you think of antisubmarine warfare, it is a capable platform, and it can carry a couple ASW helicopters. But if Russia is going this far out to conduct an antisubmarine warfare exercise, why bring only one ASW-capable surface combatant? Why not include an Udaloy or Sovremennyy destroyer?