A dozen submarines of the Northern Fleet successfully can make a hidden breakthrough to the shores of the United States in case of war.
The main submarine bases of the Russian Northern Fleet on the Kola Peninsula are in the polar village of Gadzhievo and in Western Litsa. Everything is compact enough. The only and fairly narrow exit leads to the open sea – through the Kola Bay. Near the mouth of which Russian submariners are constantly guarded by tracking stations in neighboring Norway, their patrol ships and anti-submarine aircraft.
In general, slipping unnoticed is almost impossible. And then – the tracking of Russian nuclear submarines by NATO forces along the entire route of movement. And, of course, the possibility of immediate destruction of the boat in the event of hostilities.
Of course, Russian submariners learned to break away from obsessive observation. But getting rid of the tail is not so easy. And the sooner the nuclear submarine becomes “invisible”, the more opportunities it has for further covert maneuver in the oceans. If it turns out to quietly break into it – look for the boat-fistula. The main thing is to slip unnoticed past Scandinavia.
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Given the deeply echeloned NATO anti-submarine defense lines in this region, this is a rather complicated task. The first line of anti-submarine defense of the alliance is from the Norwegian cape Nordkapp on the island of Magerø to the island of Medvezhy (the Norwegian name is Bjorneya). You will not pass by unless you go under the ice of the Arctic Ocean. The second PLO line is the Faroe-Icelandic line, which stretches from the coast of Greenland to the northern part of Great Britain.
Equipped with American hydrophones, underwater surveillance systems, with the constant watch on NATO anti-submarine ships and aircraft, these lines have always been considered in the West as a reliable means for detecting at first Soviet, and now Russian, nuclear submarines.
In the past tense, the reliability of these NATO PLO lines can be spoken about after the current history with the mass breakthrough of ten Russian submarines – eight atomic and two diesel-electric ones – into the North Atlantic agreed upon in time and place. This was reported by the Norwegian media with reference to the intelligence services of their own country.
These media, referring to sources known only to them in military intelligence, argue that the long unprecedented maneuvers of the North Sea submariners began as early as October 25, 2019, when the meeting of the Russian and Norwegian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Ine Eriksen in Norwegian Finnmark was held.
– Ten submarines of the Russian Northern Fleet take part in the operation, the purpose of which is to go as far as possible into the waters of the North Atlantic without being detected. The purpose of the operation is to overcome the Faroe-Icelandic border of NATO and to demonstrate a threat to the US east coast, – the NRK television channel stated.
As noted, the operation of the Russian submarine fleet became the largest since the beginning of the 1990s. And they call it not exercises, but “an operation designed to show military force” of the Russian Navy. At the same time, it is reported that Norwegian intelligence “sufficiently” controls the movement of Russian submarines and knows the position of some of them.
Data is provided that two submarines are located west of Bear Island. Two more – south and east of this island. Two submarines are in the northern part of the Norwegian Sea.
Thus, even if you fully trust the information of the Scandinavians, the NATO bloc on the day of the release of this message only very roughly knew the navigation areas of six Russian submarines. But these are the traditional venues for the exercises of the Russian Navy, about which everyone has long been well aware. Where have four more submarines gone? Presumably – precisely – atomic, capable of long autonomous swimming?
Likely opponents, it turns out, simply lost. Probably, as the Norwegian intelligence suggests, they advanced undetected towards the east coast of the United States, successfully overcoming the carefully guarded Faroe-Icelandic anti-submarine line.
Naturally, the Russian Navy did not advertise these exercises. The day before, the Northern Fleet only officially announced training deep-sea diving in the area of the Norwegian Sea of two nuclear submarines – Nizhny Novgorod and Pskov (named after old Russian cities).
Which, among other things, must test some weapons. At the same time, it was noted that this is a common practice that does not cause concern among neighboring coastal states.
Well, it’s somehow not accepted to warn the adjacent side of the military around the world that the exercises will unexpectedly “expand”. After all, we are talking about submarines, the main advantage of which is the secrecy of navigation. This will be a premature “drain” of information. We will tell you after the operation is completed. If at all we will tell. The “cast” to the coast of America is a serious and secret thing.
But it is worth recalling that such exercises in our fleet have already been carried out. Recall the operation of the Northern Fleet of the Navy of the USSR, called “Atrina”. It was held in 1987.
The essence of the “Atrina” was the secretive, bypassing the previous exit routes, deployment of the nuclear submarine of the 33rd submarine division of the Northern Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean with the aim of revealing the patrol areas of American SSBNs. As now, and then, the operation was distinguished by a high level of secrecy. Even its very name “Atrina” – a fictitious word, without any meaning – was invented to exclude the possibility of logical connections with the true intent.
Probably, the NATO cryptographers and cryptographers pretty broke their heads, trying to unravel the meaning of such a name. As a lyrical digression: if you remove the letter “t” from the name of the operation, you will get “Arina”. And this is not only a Russian female name. But also a small city in the US state of Minnesota, which is called the “State of the North Star.” The second most populous here are immigrants from Norway. However, this is only a naive assumption.
Operation Atrina, also called the “unknown victory of Soviet submarines,” began in March. Then five submarines of the Northern Fleet, one after another, advanced from the Kola Bay into the Barents Sea. The squad included K-119, K-255, K-224, K-298, and K-524 submarines (all of the project 671RTM (K) “Pike”, which were distinguished by a relatively low noise level). The general command of submarines at sea was carried out by the division commander, captain 1st rank (later – vice admiral) Anatoly Shevchenko.
Soviet nuclear submarines were monitored by the entire NATO anti-submarine group in the region. And at first, while the submarines were moving along the coasts of Norway and Sweden, all five were “in sight”. However, completely unexpectedly, they suddenly disappeared from the monitors.
They were searched everywhere with sonar and radar. NATO airborne anti-submarine aircraft “hung” in the air day and night. But the Shevchenko detachment caught a trace.
Submarines went unnoticed to the east coast of the United States. Some ended up at New Orleans. The participants in Operation Atrina managed to “reveal” the shipping activity of the States in that part of the Atlantic Ocean, which had not been previously indicated on Soviet intelligence cards. Nor could our nuclear-powered submarine cruisers detect six Los-Angeles class submarines sent in search of American submarines – the most advanced submarines at that time.
It was possible to accomplish a similar operation and go unnoticed to the coast of the United States largely due to a deviation from the usual routes for the passage of the nuclear submarines through the North Atlantic. That is – ours abandoned the trodden “path” and went “forest”, where NATO anti-submarine forces were not used to track and accompany them. And they had no means of detection.
It can be assumed that new sonar equipment was also used – just at that time the “Navy” devices arrived at the USSR Navy, which used advanced algorithms for analyzing the acoustic spectrum of submarines. This device, among other things, made it possible to control the ultimate distance between submarines in the “curtain”. That made it possible to move in “dense formation” ourselves and to detect NATO ships and submarines in advance.
Still, one of the Soviet nuclear submarines during Operation Atrina was discovered by the Americans. But – only on the way back.
All submarines safely returned to their Western Faces base in May 1987.
Is there any name for the current operation of the Russian nuclear submarines, which have successfully completed the inconspicuous “breakthrough” of the NATO anti-submarine defense? The general public is not aware of this. Therefore, conditionally we will call it “Atrina-2”. Nevertheless, the very fact that the submarine forces of the Russian Navy were able to calmly “walk around” in the Atlantic unnoticed is an important, “milestone” event. And another limiting factor in the nuclear confrontation between Russia and the United States.