Russian Federation, Russian Navy (Alex Omen, CC2, 2009)

Warning Over Russian Naval Activity

Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord Warns of Increasing Russian Naval Activity

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, warns of threat posed by increasing Russian naval activity, from submarines in the North Atlantic to vessels passing through the English Channel, as he described current and future challenges for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

Increasingly Complex Battlespace

Delivering the Gallipoli Memorial lecture at the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday, November 23, Sir Philip highlighted the fact that Britain’s Armed Forces “must work in an increasingly complex battlespace” in which the Royal Navy’s post-Cold War  “degree of superiority at sea” was diminishing, reported Forces.net.

You don’t need to look very far to see rising and resurgent powers flex their muscles. It’s now clear that the peaks of Russian submarine activity that we’ve seen in the North Atlantic in recent years are the new norm. The same is true of the steady stream of vessels passing the UK on their way to join the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea Fleets.
– Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord

Russia Re-Building Ageing Navy

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian naval capability deteriorated under insufficient maintenance, lack of funding and the consequent effect on training and timely replacement of materiel. In 2007, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was reported by Sputnik News as saying, “We are already building practically as many ships as we did in Soviet times. The problem now is not lack of money, but how to optimize production so that the navy can get new ships three, not five, years after laying them down.” Plans include building six new aircraft carriers, which would make the Russian Navy the world second in terms of combat capability.Former commander of the navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, outlined Russian naval development strategy, saying: “We should abandon the existing multitude of ship and aircraft classes. Compact-sized fighting blocks going to make up ships should increase their fire power and reduce research and development costs.

Russia’s Navy currently comprises over 300 vessels:

1 aircraft carrier – the Admiral Kuznetsov
2 battlecruisers
3 cruisers
15 destroyers
8 frigates
81 corvettes
19 landing ship tanks
32 landing craft
15 special-purpose ships
41 patrol boats
46 mine countermeasures vessel
3 special-purpose submarines
62 submarines

Russian-Chinese Joint Naval Exercises Extend Threat Range

Already in 2017, increased military co-operation between Russia and China has seen joint naval exercises in the Baltic.

Sir Philip also pointed out that China’s navy now sustains routine deployments to the Middle East, the Somali Basin and the Gulf of Guinea.

Earlier this year we saw a joint Russian-Chinese naval exercise in the Baltic. Suddenly, our own European backyard is a little more crowded. Our response cannot simply be to avoid operating in these environments; we don’t have that luxury. Areas of enclosed water, like the Baltic and the Persian Gulf, are essential to global security today, and will remain so.
– Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord

Held from July 21 to July 28, 2017, the joint Russian-Chinese naval exercises dubbed “Maritime Cooperation-2017”, consisted of two stages – a coastal stage and an active sea stage, according to TASS. At the opening ceremony, Russian forces were represented by Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Russia’s Navy, Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov, and the Chinese command was represented by Deputy Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China Tian Zhong.

Roman Martov, a Baltic Fleet official, said “It is the first time in the history of Russian-Chinese relations that Chinese warships visit Baltiysk.” Russian and Chinese seamen, including marine aviation crews, trained together on anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and anti-ship defence. The exercise also involved Russia’s new generation Project 20380 corvettes – the Steregushchy and the Boiky.

Securing the Crowded Seas

The First Sea Lord said that more than 40 navies are currently operating almost 500 submarines in the world’s oceans.

Sir Philip also warned that sea mines, “which remain, cheap, easy-to-use and plentiful”, present a clear danger. It is estimated that North Korea and Iran have stockpiled thousands of sea mines.

Sir Philip put his faith in Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers with their complement of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to provide maritime security into the future.