Thursday, August 6, 2009
The Pentagon is unconcerned by the presence of two Russian submarines in international waters off the U.S. coast, the Pentagon press secretary said at a news conference.
Geoff Morrell told journalists on Wednesday, “So long as they are operating in international waters – as, frankly, we do around the world – and are behaving in a responsible way, they are certainly free to do so and it doesn’t cause any alarm within this building.”
The New York Times reported late on Tuesday that the two submarines had been in the area for several days. The newspaper quoted defense department officials as saying one of the Akula-class vessels remained 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the coast, while the location of the second was not clear.
Despite the Russian Navy increased activity in recent years on the world’s oceans and participation in foreign exercises, including Venezuela last December, Morrell said the latest report was not unusual and admitted that U.S. submarines also operate off the Russian coast “from time to time.”
“While it is interesting and noteworthy that they are in this part of the world, it doesn’t pose any threat and it doesn’t cause any concern,” Morrell said.
One of the submarines is an Akula II nuclear-powered attack submarine, considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.
A U.S. military expert earlier told the paper that it was probably 15 years since two submarines had carried out such a patrol.
However, a high-ranking Russian Navy source dismissed the comments, saying that Russian vessels had never stopped their patrols of international waters.
“Even during the fleet’s most difficult times in the mid-1990s, Russian submarines put to sea on active alert for patrols. This practice continues to this day,” the official said.
In mid-July the Russian Navy launched two missiles from submarines in the Arctic Ocean. The test was hailed by an intelligence source as a success as the United States had not known about the location of the submarines prior to the launch.
The source said that the launch area, covered by ice floe, was heavily patrolled by Russian attack submarines and the Americans were unable to detect the arrival of two strategic submarines before the launch.
This article was posted: Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 4:14 am