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    Watching Russian Subs? US Navy Carrier Strike Group Deploys to Atlantic Ocean

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    The aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman has deployed to Atlantic waters from the Mediterranean Sea in what some say may be a response to the increasing prevalence of Russian submarines off the United States’ east coast, a new report suggests.

    Last week the carrier transited the Strait of Gibraltar after a multi-day port call in the southern French port of Marseille, USNI News reported June 29, bringing the carrier into a new maritime theater.

    The Truman's strike group includes six US guided missile destroyers as well as a German guided missile frigate, the FGS Hessen, some of the best anti-submarine warfare surface ships in any NATO fleet, USNI noted, also observed that such ships aren't typically deployed to the Atlantic.

    According to the naval analysis site, the USS Truman's movement into the Atlantic is an expression of two doctrinal themes within the Pentagon: returning to "great power competition" and heeding Defense Secretary James Mattis' maxim that US forces should be "strategically predictable and operationally unpredictable." One of the so-called "revisionist powers" named in the 2017 National Security Strategy.

    US and NATO officials have warned that Russian submarines are extremely busy. "Russia has massively invested in its maritime capability, especially in submarines," NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung last December. The activity level of Russian subs "is at its highest level since the Cold War," the NATO official said, adding that the fleet was operating "closer to our shores."

    Russia's underwater seaborne force is "prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give themselves an advantage in any future conflict," US Naval Forces Europe-Africa commander, Admiral James Foggo, wrote in 2016 for the magazine Proceedings.

    US Navy Cmdr. John Perkins, a spokesperson for US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, said in late June that "as a matter of longstanding policy, we do not discuss future operations," noting only that the Truman Carrier Strike Group would continue to conduct operations in support of US and NATO interests.

    According to Bryan Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the Truman Carrier Strike Group's move into the Atlantic may be an opportunity for US surface ships to train against competent submarine forces operated by the British Royal Navy or the French Navy.

    "Our Atlantic coast guys need a chance to train against good submariners," Clark told USNI, adding that "either they're doing it with the French or the British for training or for hope of finding a Russian submarine."

    The UK and Russian navies have encountered one another several times in the northern Atlantic lately. In January, frigate HMS Westminster was sent to intercept a group of Russian vessels in the English Channel making their way from Severomorsk to Syria's Tartus naval base, a naval facility in the Mediterranean leased by the Russian Navy.

    In May, Sputnik reported that the US Navy was re-establishing its Second Fleet, inactive since 2011, in response to "increasing threats in the Atlantic from Russia," unnamed officials told USNI News at the time. It was projected that the new command would become operational by July 1. Both the USS Truman's homeport and the Second Fleet's headquarters are in Norfolk, Virginia.

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