Washington Free Beacon Report Has Defense Officials Noting a Russian Attack Sub in International Waters Off Florida

An Akula class sub like this one was reportedly spotted by defense officials off the coast of Florida late last month. (Photo: Wikimedia)

For the second time in the last three months, reports of a Russian nuclear attack sub off the coast of the United States is being made by officials to the Washington Free Beacon.

TheBlaze reported the Free Beacon’s first account of a Akula vessel loaded with cruise missiles patrolling in the Gulf of Mexico in August. Now, Bill Gertz is reporting that defense officials identified an attack sub 200 miles from the east coast in international waters all while Hurricane Sandy was making landfall.

Gertz’s three defense officials close to the topic spoke with him under the condition of anonymity, he wrote, “because of the sensitive nature of anti-submarine warfare efforts.”

The reason for the presence of the sub was differed among Gertz’s sources:

One defense official said the submarine was believed to have been conducting anti-submarine warfare efforts against U.S. ballistic and cruise missile submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia.

A second official said the submarine did not sail close to Kings Bay and also did not threaten a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group that was conducting exercises in the eastern Atlantic.

At the same time, a Russian Auxiliary-General Intelligence ship was reportedly given shelter in a commercial port in Florida during Hurricane Sandy. With this commercial port within “listening distance” to Kings Bay, Gertz has a third U.S. official saying “a Russian AGI and an SSN in the same geographic area as one of the largest U.S. ballistic missile submarine bases—Kings Bay—is reminiscent of Cold War activities of the Soviet navy tracking the movements of our SSBN’s.”

Still, the second official said the submarine did not pose a threat.

Gertz notes several sources that indicate this submarine is evidence of Russia increasing its patrols:

Naval analyst Miles Yu, writing in the newsletter Geostrategy Direct, stated that Russia announced in February it is stepping up submarine patrols in strategic waters around the world in a throwback to the Soviet period.

“On June 1 or a bit later we will resume constant patrolling of the world’s oceans by strategic nuclear submarines,” Russian Navy Commander Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky was quoted as saying Feb. 3.

[...]

Richard Fisher, a military analyst with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said Russian submarine patrols in the Atlantic have been reduced but remain “regular.”

“As was their primary mission during the Cold War, Russian SSNs [nuclear attack submarines] would likely be trying to track U.S. nuclear missile submarines deploying from Kings Bay, Ga., and to monitor U.S. naval deployments from Norfolk, Va.,” Fisher said in an email.

Read Gertz’s full article in the Washington Free Beacon for more details here.

ABC News reported that officials have said the submarine has turned away from the coast and is now 600 miles away heading toward Europe.

(H/T: Business Insider)