Tuesday, June 07, 2016

New Submarine Brainteasers (06 JUN 16)

Category: Latest Intrigue ...

The Background from Submarine Quotes

"Once again, an effective, skilled, and technologically advanced Russian submarine force is challenging us. Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict. Not only have Russia’s actions and capabilities increased in alarming and confrontational ways, its national-security policy is aimed at challenging the United States and its NATO allies and partners.  ... For example, the new Russian national security-strategy depicts the United States and NATO as threats to Russian security and accuses us of applying “political, economic, military, and information-related pressure” on Russia. 6 Thus, not only is Russia pursuing advanced military capabilities (especially in the underwater domain) that enable it to be a credible threat to us, it is now boldly saying that it intends to act as one. "  - Vice Admiral James G. Foggo, III and Alarik Fritz,  "The Fourth Battle of the Atlantic",  Proceedings magazine - June 2016.

"Nuclear submarines should not be allowed to use suburban ports as supply bases. There is always a potential risk associated with nuclear-powered vessels. Fire and terrorist attacks are examples of events that could trigger a nuclear accident. A military base would provide greater protection against such occasions compared to a civil port [in densely populated areas]."  - Nils Bøhmer of Bellona told news outlet Nordlys.

And Three Versions

[all color and underscoring emphasis mine] 
- 1 - 
"Last week, a US nuclear submarine emerged off Norway's coast in Tromsø supposedly for changing crews, which somehow added fuel to the fire. ...
Spokesperson Brynjar Stordal of the Joint Headquarters confirmed the submarine had the so-called administrative assignment of swapping crews and carrying out a number of tasks before going out to sea, yet refused to specify the type of the submarine. No further indication was given, except for the fact that it was American and had Norfolk as its homeport." - Sputnik International, 06 June 2015 
[Note: Sputnik is one of Russia's government-controlled news outlets geared towards non-Russian audiences. Sputnik has been described as propagandist.] 
- 2 - 
"The US military wants to use a new harbour at Tønsnes near Tromsø for its nuclear submarines on patrol in Arctic waters. Norwegian military officials seem keen to accommodate their powerful American allies, but local residents are skeptical and state radiation authorities must evaluate whether such vessels will be welcome."  
and, ... 
“I would say that the presence of our allies is a central dimension within Norwegian security and defense policy,” Regina Alexandrova, a Bulgarian-born Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, told NRK. She represents Troms County and sits on the parliament’s foreign and defense policy committee. “We have exercises and train with our allies and often have visits from allied forces,” Alexandrova added. “Their presence in Northern Norway is both legitimate and desired from our side.” - Nuclear sub berthings meet skepticism, Views and News from Norway, May 12, 2016.

- 3 - 
"The navy’s submarine base infrastructure had included the Olavsvern facility near Tromsø in Northern Norway. This base, which cost US$500 million to construct and fit-out, was decommissioned in 2009.

The Olavsvern facility, which contains tunnels burrowed in to mountainside rock, is currently leased to research institutes funded by Russia and closely connected to the oil company Gazprom. [all color and underscoring emphasis mine]

The base at Olavsvern was used extensively by US and British nuclear powered attack submarines patrolling Arctic waters during the Cold War. The facility was also used by NATO submarine commanders to rest crews and carry out repairs. - The navy’s submarine base infrastructure had included the Olavsvern facility near Tromsø in Northern Norway. This base, which cost US$500 million to construct and fit-out, was decommissioned in 2009.
  - Gerard O’Dwyer, Norway Reviewing Submarine Base Infrastructure, Capacity; Defense News, 19  May 2016.

Some Obvious Questions 
  • Which LA-class U.S. sub "homeported in Norfolk" could it have been "last week"? ANS: If report is true, one of these boats perhaps.
  • What was the actual nature of the alleged "swapping crews and carrying out a number of tasks"?  ANS: Likely some Silent and Strange assignment unless an actual medical emergency, but to date only VA-class attack subs have been publicly assigned female crew members, and medical problems among male submariners have remained very rare.
  • Where "off Norway's coast and nearTromso?  ANS: Tønsnes appears likely.
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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