“Russian Warships Sailed ‘Right Through’ Alaska Fishing Fleet: Sailors” –Newsweek

Northeast Russia and Alaska are in close proximity and the U.S. Coast Guard will interact more and more as Russian maritime activity in the Arctic grows. Photo: Shutterstock

There is a Newsweek report of Russian vessels engaged in exercises disrupting fishing in the US EEZ.

“Three warships and two support vessels of theirs were coming and would not turn,” Elliott said from aboard the Vesteraalen. “And they came marching right through the fleet.”

This was in International Waters so it is not that the Russian vessels were violating international law by their presence. They may have violated the “nautical rules of the road”, but that is not clear. Certainly there was no reason to choose the waters for the exercise that they did, other than muscle flexing. It is not a choice a good neighbor would have made.

The fishermen also seemed to feel they had not been informed the Russians were going to be there. “We were caught by surprise” Perhaps we might have done more about that.

21 thoughts on ““Russian Warships Sailed ‘Right Through’ Alaska Fishing Fleet: Sailors” –Newsweek

    • Continental powers like Russia and China want to claim sovereignty over the ocean approaches to to their territory.

      Maritime powers want unlimited access to the oceans.

      Territorial Sea used to be based on how far the cannons of a fort could shoot, but now we have shore based systems that can reach hundreds or thousands of miles seaward.

      It is an argument with a long history.

    • This Russian Arctic Exercise is an EXCELLENT example for the US Marine Corps in their Force Design 2030 (FD2030) concept plan shaping. FD230 is meant to attack A2/ AD islands and use HiMARS with Naval Strike Missile (NSM) for Anti-Shipping roles to deny peer nations’ from launching an amphibious assault.

      So, OK, place a few USMC HiMARS with NSMs on the coast of Alaska as a deterrent response…let’s do that this week and fly them in…and how long will those crews last inside their freezing FMTV cabs when this Russian Arctic Exercise is ongoing? (A warship can have an endurance of MONTHS!) How fast can HiMARS reload if it comes to shooting? The FMTV with Anti-Ship missiles concept, on paper, seems valid, but in practice, is it against all these warships’ VLS cells that can whack the static position even before a reload! Counter-battery fire has been usually perfected since the Cold War.

      And then how about if there IS an incursion…how can a Naval Strike Missile or Harpoon turn into a MLRS rocket or an ATACMS land-attack missile to whack the invading landing party? It usually can’t—it isn’t a Maritime Tomahawk missile that can be reprogrammed for dual-roles in Anti-Ship and Land Attack. The HiMARS NSM idea now seems somewhat flawed in practice, and with the elimination of M1A1 MBTs and M777 towed tube artillery to back up HiMARS, there isn’t really anything to push the landing party back towards the sea if they do make it to shore besides JLTVs, UAVs, and ACVs (maybe). Against hundreds of warship VLS cells, the HiMARS NSM concept seems….yikes!

      Obviously, the USMC will operate jointly with the USN warships for VLS cells, but if HiMARS NSM Anti-Ship is deployed alone, that in itself might be a problem because FMTVs lack machine guns, usually, even on the cabs’ roofs, to defend themselves and attack other than enemy warships.

      • @P, so far I am not impressed with the new direction of the Marine Corps. Sounds like they are going to maroon a lot of Marines in positions that can be picked off easily one at a time. The new small amphib they are talking about is slow and weak. It looks more like what the Japanese did during WWII than what we did. Which was go in with overwhelming strength, while the Japanese had units spread all over the map. Most of which never got into the fight and died of starvation.

      • I concur that this new orientation of the MC is as a support unit for Navy ship shortages. It’s almost like the old Defense Battalions with NSM-equipped HIMARs trucks. I do wonder if the entire Corps is going this route, or if it is just a portion, while retaining Regiments and Divisions to some degree?

        By the way @P, ATACMS is already gone. They have been deactivating them for quite some time and none operationally coded still exist.

      • @chuckhill, off topic to USCG, but the Marines usually see themselves as Riflemen. That is fine in most parts of the world, but against peer nations with long-ranged artillery, mortars, rockets, missiles, cannons, and grenade launchers, human flesh and bones have a tendency to vaporize in the face of explosions and shrapnel.

        None of the RIMPAC SINKEXs have 20mm CIWS, RAM, or SeaRAM on the target ships, and thus no anti-missile defense. The USMC is enamored with the thought that all NSMs will get through CIWS to hit the target, and that’s not entirely factual even given the NSMs stealthy design because it is the LRASM that is the true high-tech anti-ship stealth missile. Force Design 2030 seems a “Forced Design” on the USMC with a heavy reliance on UAVs and small ships.

        History has shown that typhoons, hurricanes, mines, underwater explosions, etc. have wiped away many large small vessel amphibious invasions and drowned them, even if these small ships can survive in high sea states. The EFT cannot survive in high sea states nor fend for itself well as the ATGMs fired at HSV “Swift” off of Yemen demonstrated.

        I feel that the USN/ USMC made a mistake not reinventing the seaplane. The Chinese and Japanese have seaplanes, with the Chinese having the largest seaplane. A USN/ USMC cargo seaplane seems more logical for the Marines than these small fast amphibious boats.

      • The “Key West Agreement of 1948” redefined what the Military Services were allowed to have and how to use them. The US Navy was allowed to use Seaplanes, only if seaplanes weren’t used in a transport role…

    • Many in Alaska and Canada view their territory as “too cold, desolate, sparsely populated, and remote” for any occupation by a foreign power, and hence, brush off any threats of an invasion. I emailed these people over the decades and their attitudes have remained the same, hence they enjoy a more peaceful coexistence with nature. I’m not saying that any invasion is imminent, but there are hardly any ships to enforce a “Line in the water” or race to prevent sabotage and special forces incursions if it comes to probing.

      I suppose the introduction of the F-35A and P-8 with Anti-Ship ordnance might be a deterrent, but a lack of naval and USCG cutters seem to emphasize no physical blocking presence in Alaskan waters outside of U.S. SSNs.

      The lack of simple missile corvettes by the U.S. Navy really shows now. An example is why I am a supporter of the new F-15EX program. Sometimes the USAF just needs a fighter to get airborne ASAP for CONUS air defense. The U.S. Navy needs a missile corvette to get sailing ASAP for CONUS sea defense and not from Seattle, WA to Alaska.

      • Didn’t prevent the Imperial Japanese from trying in 1942, and Vladivostok is one of the largest Military Bases that the Russian Federation has, and those that train there are trained in Arctic Warfare…

  1. According to “Reuters” the Fishing Fleet was in US Territorial Waters, which make you wonder how far is Vladimir Putin willing to push…

  2. There is a valid point in asking what the Russians would accomplish by landing in Alaska. It is not like a land army can move down to the lower 48 once they get to Nome.

    It is likely there will be additional sensors emplaced in Alaska. There is already a ballistic defense radar in the Aleutians. Taking out sensors makes us more vulnerable. There is the old DEW line, but it is really becoming less effective.

    We are going to want to replace the DEW line. That may require icebreaker support. Or perhaps it will be a very different sort of technology that will mean the sensors e.g. over-the-horizon radar will be well back from the coast.

    The Navy definitely needs to get their act together relative to operating in the Arctic on the Pacific side. At least they are doing some exercises North of the Arctic circle on the Atlantic side.

    There really is an organizational problem in thinking about fighting in the Bering Sea. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2018/04/07/charting-the-course-the-u-s-needs-an-arctic-fleet-usni-why-we-never-see-the-navy-in-alaska/

    • It would be an excellent spot for Aegis Ashore, particularly with the BMD software. That would make Russia and China go bonkers…

    • The Russians landing in Alaska, if they really wanted to, would be to disrupt the USAF Airfields and sorties and cause havoc in the back country. An Airfield seizure by BMDs or Airborne Light Tanks would be enough to prevent some CONUS Air Defense and cause NORAD and NORTHCOM to scramble. Of course this would mean war, but it could open the way for PLA forces. Fort Wainwright has really light Infantry units—just Strykers that are very lightly armored and armed.

      Also, such a feat would hurt National Pride as America hasn’t been invaded by a Foreign Power since Canada and the War of 1812 during 1814 to Northern New York.

      • Come again?/! “Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island and the Aleutians” were “ALL” United States territories in WW2 and ALL occupied by the Imperial Japanese in WW2…

  3. The Marines call for the light amphib (LAW) is pretty weak. I can’t imagine they actually get 30 ships for this project. The most useful thing that platform, as it is now talked about, is helping with disaster response in remote Pacific areas. The ship they are talking about is 200 loa, 14 knots, beaching, shallow draft. Asking for an open deck and berthing for 40 crew and 70 grunts. Those are some tight quarters in today’s Navy. Imagine cramming everything in a 210 WMEC in the front 75′ of ship and that is about how much room they would have to work with for berthing, mess, etc. This isn’t a larger variation of the Army MSM (L) landing craft, they want this thing to be able to cross oceans. Can it be done? Sure, LSMs in WWII did it just fine. but not carrying that many people and with mixed gender crews.

    • The only benefit for a LAW would be to land tanks, and the Marines decommissioned all of their M1A1s. LAWs seem unarmed and unarmored, so how can they enter a contested beach even more so than LCACs that are supposed to land on unopposed areas?

      Landing JLTVs, ACVs, HiMARS, and LAVs can be accomplished with practically any boat or landing ship like LCAC and LCUs that can carry light armor, and these vehicles have pretty weak armor and armament to land into a peer nation mechanized fight.

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