STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

NATO back on the hunt for Russian submarines in the Arctic

In a far-flung corner of Iceland's main international airport, a once-raging strand of the Cold War is being...

Posted: Nov 1, 2018 8:30 PM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 8:30 PM

In a far-flung corner of Iceland's main international airport, a once-raging strand of the Cold War is being rekindled -- NATO's hunting of Russian submarines.

"They're letting us know that they're out there," Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, said of Russia's increased submarine presence in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

Armed forces

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government organizations - Intl

Iceland

Marine transportation

Marine vessels

Military

Military weapons

NATO

North America

Northern Europe

Nuclear weapons

Russia

Submarines

The Americas

Transportation and warehousing

United States

Weapons and arms

Weapons of mass destruction

Arctic

Military vessels

Government and public administration

Investigations

Politics

Russia meddling investigation

"They're operating in much greater numbers and in places they have not operated before."

And NATO is keen to respond and send its own message back. Thursday, the alliance begins its Trident Juncture exercise, a so-called Article 5 exercise that tests the readiness of NATO allies to restore the sovereignty of one of its members -- in this case, Norway -- after an act of aggression.

It will be NATO's largest exercise in decades, involving 50,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels, including a US aircraft carrier operating north of the Arctic Circle for the first time in almost 30 years.

Tensions between Russia and the West are at highs not seen since the Cold War, amid the poisoning of former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal in England, allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election and Western sanctions on Moscow following its annexation of Crimea.

But Foggo, who is overseeing Trident Juncture, said the exercise isn't a threat to Russia, noting that NATO and Russian troops will be more than 700 kilometers (435 miles) apart during the maneuvers. NATO, he added, had invited Russian and Belarusian observers to monitor the exercise.

"I want them to be there because that conveys the strength of the alliance," Foggo said.

As the exercise plays out, it will involve air, ground and maritime operations, including anti-submarine warfare.

Russia not yet NATO's equal

Foggo said he believes Russia has over 40 combat submarines, more than 20 concentrated in its Northern Fleet, capable of operating in the North Atlantic and the Arctic.

To keep track of the Russian subs, NATO planes are making a flight about every other day out of a revived US base at Keflavik International Airport.

Iceland's foreign minister, Thór Thórdarson, said in a speech in Stockholm in January that alliance aircraft are operating out of the country with increased frequency, taking off from Keflavik for a total of 153 days in 2017, a steady year-on-year increase from just 21 days in 2014.

Established in 1951, the US Naval Air Station in Iceland was deactivated in 2006, as NATO shifted its focus in Europe south to the Mediterranean. However, the threat posed by a resurgent Russia and its submarine fleet has worried US military commanders and brought the Americans back to this island nation, which sits between Greenland and the United Kingdom.

To get from bases in the Russian Arctic to the open Atlantic, Moscow's submarines need to pass Iceland.

Foggo says those subs are a big headache for NATO's leaders.

"The Russians have continued to invest in research and development and production of very capable submarines. They have been our most capable adversary," said the US admiral, who spoke with CNN in an exclusive interview.

Russia says its sub fleet is defensive and necessary to safeguard the country's security.

At this year's "Submariner Day" in March, Vice Adm. Oleg Burtsev, the former head of Russian naval forces, talked about the importance of beefing up the country's fleet of subs.

"This is because the plans of the leadership of our country and our army are to ensure that we are capable of worthily countering any probable enemy from all directions," Burtsev said, according to Russia's Tass news agency.

And another former top naval commander said Russia has some work to do to match the submarine fleet the NATO allies can muster.

"I believe that the qualitative level of our fleet is quite high now, but its quantity is not yet enough," Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, the former head of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, told Tass.

Much of NATO's trouble with the Russian sub fleet is of its own making, said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain and current Hawaii Pacific University professor.

"Much of (the Russian sub fleet's) current threat is based on the expansion of its operations and operating areas at a time when NATO countries have reduced their fleets and fleet operations," Schuster said, calling it "a serious threat only because NATO ignored it until recently to focus on other security concerns."

A new generation of threat

Foggo says Russia's new generation of submarines is highly capable and dangerous. Among the newest is the Borei class: virtually silent, nuclear-powered vessels capable of launching ballistic missiles. The Borei class is a main pillar of Russia's underwater nuclear deterrent force, similar to the US Ohio class ballistic missile submarines.

"This is beyond any doubt the future of our group of naval strategic nuclear forces," the head of Russia's naval forces, Adm. Vladimir Korolev, said recently at the christening of another new Borei class submarine.

Russia currently has four of these on active duty, with four more expected to enter service by 2020. (https://sputniknews.com/military/20120730174865317/)

But Russia is also in the process of modernizing many of its older submarines, like the diesel-electric Kilo class boats. These can now stay under water longer and are capable of carrying four cruise missiles, which they successfully fired at ISIS targets in Syria, the Russian military says.

"They carry the Kalibr cruise missile, a very capable weapon system. And from any of the places the Russians operate from, they can target any capital in Europe," Foggo said.

"Would they do it? I don't think so, but nevertheless, we need to be cognizant of where they are at all times," he said.

Schuster said that worry gives Russia an advantage.

"Moscow 's aggressive actions and intent will determine the time and place of a crisis while Western nations must be present and ready to respond at all times," he said.

And that's why NATO is methodically ramping up operations in Iceland.

Chess in the ocean

The US is spending $34 million to upgrade facilities at Keflavik, which will enable the Navy to deploy its P-8 Poseidon surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft more frequently.

But even with the twin-engine jets running regular surveillance in the North Atlantic, finding Russian submarines is not an easy task.

"The ocean is big .... It's a chess match between the sub commander and all the assets that are trying to find him," Lt. Cmdr. Rick Dorsey, the tactical coordinator for one of the US P-8 units operating out of Iceland, told CNN. "It's a combination of a lot of work, from a lot of different units."

"We work with ships, we work with other aircraft, we work with other nations to help get the picture," Dorsey said.

It's the sort of team work among allies that Adm. Foggo wants to encourage, applauding the UK and Norway for acquiring their own P-8 aircraft and calling on NATO members to invest in research and development to keep a competitive edge over Russia. "We must continue challenging them wherever they are and knowing where they are," he said.

"We can no longer take for granted that we can sail with impunity in all of the oceans."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295001

Reported Deaths: 3535
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin624331107
Ramsey26238493
Anoka20851224
Dakota20527189
Stearns13245106
Washington13220111
St. Louis8141108
Scott798154
Wright720338
Olmsted639934
Sherburne552241
Clay473356
Carver443213
Blue Earth395813
Rice393335
Kandiyohi378719
Crow Wing344731
Nobles301429
Chisago29799
Otter Tail288820
Benton285847
Winona266629
Mower248523
Douglas242235
Polk238223
Morrison224027
Lyon206711
Beltrami202517
McLeod198511
Becker194015
Goodhue190628
Steele18336
Itasca179123
Isanti179016
Todd173912
Carlton170414
Nicollet154925
Freeborn14795
Mille Lacs145131
Le Sueur141111
Waseca135911
Cass133310
Brown131215
Pine12788
Meeker11638
Roseau11074
Hubbard107523
Martin105520
Wabasha9941
Redwood87518
Dodge8230
Chippewa8157
Watonwan8104
Cottonwood7942
Renville77322
Sibley7564
Wadena7476
Aitkin71729
Rock7149
Pipestone69618
Houston6534
Fillmore6510
Yellow Medicine61511
Pennington6137
Murray5623
Kanabec55713
Swift5448
Faribault5251
Pope5071
Clearwater4817
Stevens4813
Jackson4581
Marshall4508
Lake3916
Unassigned38659
Koochiching3675
Wilkin3605
Lac qui Parle3513
Lincoln3331
Norman3307
Big Stone2962
Mahnomen2834
Grant2566
Red Lake2033
Kittson2027
Traverse1391
Lake of the Woods941
Cook630

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 223783

Reported Deaths: 2330
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33166333
Linn13991164
Scott1100384
Black Hawk10795134
Woodbury10255124
Johnson940036
Dubuque913491
Story674921
Dallas629057
Pottawattamie617069
Sioux366725
Webster357033
Cerro Gordo349644
Marshall346345
Clinton322840
Buena Vista302214
Muscatine282668
Des Moines282419
Warren276411
Plymouth270641
Wapello251571
Jones228413
Jasper214643
Marion202919
Lee199416
Carroll196422
Bremer192612
Henry18107
Crawford174115
Benton167418
Tama153340
Jackson143013
Delaware141021
Washington138214
Dickinson135810
Boone134811
Mahaska126127
Wright12226
Buchanan115410
Clay11504
Hardin114010
Page11144
Hamilton11009
Clayton10875
Harrison106629
Cedar106213
Calhoun10607
Kossuth10426
Floyd103916
Mills10297
Fayette102210
Lyon10188
Butler9916
Poweshiek98213
Winneshiek95812
Iowa93012
Winnebago91323
Hancock8547
Louisa84916
Grundy84611
Chickasaw8424
Sac8407
Cherokee8214
Cass80222
Allamakee79011
Appanoose77910
Mitchell7794
Humboldt7635
Shelby76111
Union7576
Emmet74924
Guthrie74115
Franklin73421
Jefferson7062
Madison6764
Palo Alto6474
Unassigned6470
Keokuk5777
Pocahontas5572
Howard5489
Greene5170
Osceola5171
Ida48113
Clarke4774
Taylor4603
Davis4548
Montgomery45011
Monroe43912
Adair4298
Monona4272
Fremont3553
Van Buren3545
Worth3540
Lucas3226
Decatur3160
Audubon2952
Wayne2957
Ringgold2082
Adams1652
Rochester
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Mason City
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 35°
Albert Lea
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 33°
Austin
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 36°
Charles City
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 31°
A Sunny and Mild Saturday Expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Small business Saturday

Image

Sean's Weather 11/28

Image

Sidelined in quarantine: Coach Fennelly talks about his experience away from the game

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Image

Santa Claus Visits Rochester to Lead Drive-Thru Parade

Image

Aaron's Friday Evening Forecast

Image

Increased demand for real Christmas trees

Image

Santa visits Rochester for drive-thru parade

Image

Salvation Army needs bell ringers

Community Events