Again walking through the corridors of power in the United States is the abbreviation “GUGI”, frightening many within these walls and born in the Russian Ministry of Defence. The thing is that the other day the “Yantar” oceanographic research vessel (ORV), belonging to the Russian top-secret Main Directorate of Underwater Research, entered the Caribbean Sea. Which is abbreviated – GUGI.
In the West, “Yantar” is confidently called the most important spy ship of the Russian fleet. And it is noted that more than once it with non-advertised goals has drifted for a long time in the areas of sea waters, on the bottom of which pass the most important lines of underwater communications of our probable opponents.
For this reason, the previous appearance of “Yantar” off the US coast in 2015 caused a form of hysterics over the ocean. After our ORV passed a little south of the Canadian island of Saint John, The Washington Times sounded the alarm: “U.S. intelligence ships, aircraft and satellites are closely watching a Russian military vessel in the Atlantic that has been sailing near a U.S. nuclear missile submarine base and underwater transit routes.”
A little later, the US Strategic Command suddenly notified the world in advance of the arrival in Scotland of the American SSBN-742 “Wyoming” (“Ohio” class). Although never before were such announcements made. The thing is, the overseas publication Washington Free Beacon claimed at the time that after the appearance of the “Russian reconnaissance ship” in the North Atlantic, the patrol route of “Wyoming” became a punchinello secret for Moscow. For those in the Pentagon who plan the order of carrying out combat service with such strategic nuclear vessels, it is actually a disaster. Since almost everything in this matter both with them and with us is tied precisely to the secrecy of navigation.
How did “Yantar” manage to uncover the US Navy’s most important military secrets? Naturally, this is about information of an extremely delicate nature, so no one in Moscow will officially comment on this. But based on the open information about the equipment and deep-sea vehicles that are on board “Yantar”, it is logical to assume during that time near Saint John Island (and possibly somewhere else in the Atlantic!) our seafarers covertly installed elements of Russia’s only global underwater tracking system, “Garmoniya”. In other words, an analogue of the SOSUS hydro-acoustic anti-submarine system that has long been used by the Americans, whose hydrophones have been on the ocean floor near Norway (at the boundary of Nord Cape/Bear Island) and in the Pacific Ocean and record every passage above them of Russian nuclear missile carriers.
It is argued that our “Garmoniya” will largely outperform the technical capabilities of SOSUS, which is almost half a century older than ours. First of all – the fact that, unlike the standard equipment, Russian hydrophones are able to work not only in passive, but also in active mode (radiation). Apparently for this reason they are given a much more solid name – automatic seabed stations (ASS).
Installed on any section of the seabed from a special vessel or from a submarine, numerous ASS can be in working mode for many years. And they detect not only nuclear submarines, but even aircraft and helicopters flying at low altitude over the ocean. The collected information will be transmitted (and possibly – are already transmitted) through reconnaissance space satellites to the main command post of the “Garmoniya” system, which is currently being built in Belushya Guba (Novaya Zemlya archipelago between the Barents and Kara Seas).
It seems that the Americans believe that one or more Russian ASS was already installed from the ORV “Yantar” in the North Atlantic near the coast of the United States, and that the SSBN-742 “Wyoming” carried out a combat patrol over them. After this, the news about the beginning of its trip was heard even on Novaya Zemlya. For this reason, American submarines hiding further in the depths made no sense. So they, badly distressed, openly surfaced off Scotland.
And now, four years later, “Yantar” is once again lurking in the very ocean underbelly of the United States. And in the Pentagon they are losing sleep: what other surprises does the “treacherous Russian GUGI” have for them this time?
So far, everyone knows very little about this: last Friday “Yantar” went to Trinidad and Tobago. And already on Sunday again went on an expedition course on the coast of the US. It is understandable that United States combat and reconnaissance ships and aircraft follow it no less closely than an enemy strategic nuclear submarine missile cruiser. Because, obviously, it is suspected: nowadays it may not even be about continuing work on the “Garmoniya” hydro-acoustic system.
Even scarier for our “sworn friends” is if on board ORV “Yantar” at the same time preparations are being made for the installation somewhere in these regions of “Skif“. In other words: seabed systems of autonomous underwater launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
General Viktor Bondaryev, Head of the Defence and Security Committee of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, first declared that such weapons are already part of the arsenal of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on November 21st 2017. A little later it became known that the “Rubin” design bureau and the Makeyev Center have been engaged in the creation of “Skif” since the mid-1990s. Practical trials took place in 2013. However, so far no word has been heard in the open press about the beginning of the deployment of “Skif” in the ocean. However, this does not mean that Russia does not actually deploy a new super-weapon. It just doesn’t scream about it from all rooftops. And rightly so.
In short, what is “Skif”? In a nutshell – anchored inconspicuous container with all life support and communication systems. Inside – the most reliable liquid intercontinental ballistic missile R-29RMU2 “Sineva” or R-29RMU2.1 “Layner”. Just like on our strategic nuclear submarine cruisers projects 667BDR and 667BDRM.
Just a brilliant technical solution in its simplicity. Everything is relatively cheap and dangerous for the enemy. No submarines and their crews are needed for a sudden strike by such weapons at all. Via a radio signal “Skif” is armed, the container is suspended to a depth of about 50 meters and then launched. Just like being on board a ballistic missile submarine.
It is impossible to detect hydro-acoustics in advance and defuse “Skif”. Some kind of not the biggest piece of iron lies among the underwater rocks – and so what, leave it to lie there. How many of them are scattered everywhere? You can only understand that in front of you is a strategic weapons of the Russians visually. But bringing a diver down to a depth of a few hundred meters to check is not such a simple and quick thing. What if these “Skifs” are scattered across the oceans and seas?
In principle, it is easiest for Russia to completely secure its “Skifs” by placing them, say, in the depths of Lake Baikal. Or Lake Ladoga. Then the opponent can’t reach them at all. But in case it is necessary to strike back or retaliate, suppose, on the territory of the United States, flying to overseas targets from our lakes is far away. Theoretically, it can be assumed that the missiles could become victims of the US missile defence system along the trajectory. Although in practice no one will be able to verify this for sure. There won’t be anyone left to verify it.
However, what if a couple or three of our “Skifs” are also purely theoretically lurking right under the nose of the Americans? In the Pacific or the Atlantic? From there, flying to targets in this country would be a matter of minutes. No one in Washington will have time to reach for the Bible when it will blow: “Good morning!”
So: as it is claimed, today on ORV “Yantar” there is everything to covertly pick in advance the most secluded places for the installation of “Skifs” in the same Caribbean Sea. On it there are, say, the inhabited autonomous deep-sea vehicles “Rus” and “Konsul”, which are able to descend to a depth of 6000 meters and 6,270 meters respectively.
However, the containers with “Skifs” inside cannot be installed by “Yantar” – they are too heavy and cumbersome. And “Skifs” “will not fit on the relatively small “Yantar”. Specialised ferries are needed for the transport of such weapons. Such as the rescue tugboat “Zvezdochka” (project 20180), which has long been at the disposal of the GUGI and built on its order and became part of the Northern fleet on July 24th 2010. It is rumoured that it, along with the diesel-electric submarine “Sarov”, was used for the “Skif” tests. Or the similar to “Zvezdochka”, but slightly modified maritime arms transport carrier “Akademik Kovalev”, in 2015 transferred to the Pacific Fleet. And at the end of 2018, for the first time the built for the GUGI “Akademik Aleksandrov”, a strengthened ice class weapons maritime transport carrier, also went to sea for testing.
So, everything is simple: track from space the travel routes of Zvezdochka, Akademika Aleksandrov, and Akademika Kovalev – and you will be able to guess where they are able to install “Skifs” at the bottom of the sea? Nope. Because nuclear special-purpose submarines of the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research will soon be able to carry out the same task covertly. First of all – the longest in the world nuclear submarine “Belgorod” (project 09852), launched in April 2019. And then “Khabarovsk” (project 09851), which since 2014 has been urgently built for the same “underwater special forces of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” in Severodvinsk.
In general, it has long seemed that the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, created only in 2005, in recent years at Russian shipyards has decisively pushed aside even the much larger Navy of the Russian Federation itself. In any case, the ship composition of the GUGI is replenished simply at a feverish pace.
Thus, in addition to the already listed replenishment just at the end of October 2019, the Kaliningrad shipbuilding plant without special publicity launched two oceanographic research vessels for the GUGI – “Evgeny Gorigledzhan” (project 02670) and “Almaz” (the same as the famous “Yantar” project 22010). And on October 1st 2018 in the port of Lomonosov (Leningrad region) there was a solemn ceremony of lifting the Ensign of the Russian Navy on the experimental ship “Ladoga” from project 11982. And, of course – also for the GUGI.
And finally, another eloquent touch in order to definitely understand what importance is given in the Russian defence system to this organisation, full of secret, administrative, and financial power, from the first day headed by the Hero of Russia Vice Admiral Aleksey Burilichev. The 10th brigade of “aquanauts” of his GUGI was recently awarded the Order of Nakhimov. In the fleet, only the crews of the missile cruisers “Petr Veliky”, “Varyag”, and “Moskva” have been awarded the same honour.
“Aquanauts” and our best missile cruisers in one row – what else does it take to imagine what the true combat capabilities of the GUGA are today? Is it clear why the Americans are nervous when the flag of this department is too close, as it seems to the Pentagon, to pass off their shores again?
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