UK Tabloids Raise Alarm Over Russian Nuclear Subs Conducting ‘Sinister’ Deep Dive Ops in Atlantic
15:28 GMT 02.08.2021 (Updated: 16:46 GMT 02.08.2021)
© Photo : Russian Defense MinistrySubmariner Day
© Photo : Russian Defense Ministry
The Borei-class submarine is a nuclear-powered ballistic missile-carrying boat with up to 16 Bulava nuclear missiles onboard. Russia currently has four of these subs in its arsenal, with a fifth expected to be commissioned in October and at least five more to be completed after that.
British tabloid outlets The Mirror and The Sun have expressed hyperbole-filled concerns about the significance of Russian Borei-class subs’ alleged deep-dive operations in the far north.
In a piece about the “mysterious ‘deep penetration’ missions” on Sunday, The Mirror reported that “large numbers of Borei-class subs were diving to depths greater than 500 metres in the Norwegian Sea in a possible “bid to enter the Atlantic undetected.”
The Sun was even more alarmist in its reporting, calling the alleged missions “sinister.”
The Mirror erroneously reported that Borei-class subs are “believed to be capable of carrying new Zircon 3M22 hypersonic missiles, which can cover 2.7 km per second and against which there is thought to be little or no protection.”
It’s not clear where The Sun got its information about supposed Russian plans to fit the Zircon, envisioned as a surface ship-based missile, aboard Borei-class subs. According to all publicly available information, Zircon cruise missiles are intended for deployment aboard Project 885M Yasen-class nuclear missile subs, not Borei-class boats.
A source told The Mirror that while “the reason for these extreme depth missions has eluded most analysts,” it could simply be about ensuring “access [to] the Atlantic with stealth.” The source complained that “there has been an increase in Russian submarine activity of late, as there has with much of Moscow’s armed forces as it tests the resolve of NATO.”
Vladimir Valuev, a veteran submariner and former commander of the Russian Baltic Fleet, questioned the veracity of the tabloids’ reporting, telling Sputnik that British stories on Russian subs’ activities amount to pure speculation.
“I consider it to be speculation. I don’t know of any devices with which one could check the depth to which [an adversary’s sub] is immersed. The Brits are making things up,” Valuev said.
At the same time, the commander did not rule out that Borei-class boats can dive to depths of 500 metres or more, given Russian submarine builders’ historical capabilities. He recalled that the Project 685 Plavnik Komsomolets submarine, commissioned in 1980s, successfully dove to 1,000 metres, with such a depth great enough to put it out of reach of enemy torpedoes. If modern Russia were to build similar subs, he suggested, “they would be invulnerable.”