Sea hunting: how the defense of the north-east of Russia is being strengthened
And what forces will cover this important strategic area
Chukotka, Kamchatka, Yakutia, Kuril Islands — the north-east of Russia has huge natural resources, but also difficult climatic conditions. The geopolitical situation dictates the need to protect the country from all sides, including the Far East. About where our "Bastions" stand today, and where they are not enough, how the Soviet Navy set up a base on Simushir Island, which ships will soon be guarding the Sea of Okhotsk, and which ones are already being guarded, — in the material of military historian Dmitry Boltenkov.
Since the beginning of the special military operation, the number of demands and claims against Russia in all directions from various unfriendly states has increased. It got to the point that US officials began to challenge the ownership of Wrangel Island to Russia. They probably forgot how Soviet border guards took Americans and Canadians out of Wrangel and Ratmanov Islands by the ear in the 1920s. But the brazen Japanese demands for the Kuril Islands exclude any possibility of concluding a peace treaty with this country.
Russia has spent huge material and human resources to create and develop such a sea transport route as the Northern Sea Route (NSR), and now it has the right to consider it its national treasure and not let everyone on it for free. A number of countries and politicians are trying to challenge this and demand that the NSR be transferred to some kind of international jurisdiction. In the area of Chukotka, there is just the eastern entrance to the Northern Sea Route.
In general, in the course of conducting its military operations, the enemy, represented by Western countries, very creatively strikes at the territory of Russia, goes to any provocations and sabotage. One undermining of the "Northern Streams" is worth a lot. It is becoming clear that it is necessary to carefully protect both the natural and biological resources of our remote territories. It is impossible to exclude the landing of a sabotage detachment on the territory of Chukotka. Such encroachment must be stopped in the bud.
Another major threat to Russia is the unauthorized appearance of a detachment of warships of unfriendly countries in the waters that the country considers its own. Accordingly, the Russian Federation needs to build defensive bastions, work out the transfer of troops and ships to remote regions of the Arctic Ocean.
Today, the forces of the Eastern Military District and its Pacific Fleet and the Joint Command of Troops and Forces in the North-east of Russia are constantly receiving new types of weapons and military equipment. New submarines and ships are coming to the Far East. The district forces are constantly taking part in a variety of combat exercises.
One of the most significant events of the past year was the strengthening of the Eastern Missile Wall. This is the name given to the coastal missile barrier being created in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin. In 2022, the Russian Defense Ministry received two Bastion mobile missile complexes. One of them was placed on Paramushir Island in early December. A year ago, another Bastion division was stationed on Matua Island.
Thus, combat systems are being deployed that block the Kuril Straits of the central and northern parts of the Kuril Ridge with missile fire. Along with the complexes deployed on the islands of Iturup and Kunashir, a complete overlap of the Kuril Straits is obtained. So far, it is surprising that the Main command of the Navy is not conducting research on the revival of its former base on Simushir Island.
The USSR at one time spent considerable resources on creating this base. Several thousand tons of explosives were used to create a convenient bay on the island. The central location of the island in the middle of the Kuril Ridge directly asks for the placement of another division of "Bastions". Together with the missile systems on Sakhalin, the guaranteed closure of the Sea of Okhotsk from warships of unfriendly countries is obtained.
In the meantime, there are no permanently deployed divisions with "Bastions" in Chukotka, but their appearance in places such as Anadyr or Wrangel Island is a question, we can be sure, of the near future.
The Sea of Okhotsk itself is the zone where Borey-class missile submarines will be based in the event of war. These boats are considered a strategic reserve of the Supreme High Command in the event of a nuclear war, and their preservation will be one of the main tasks of the Pacific Fleet.
Currently, the 25th Submarine Division already has three such cruisers: "Alexander Nevsky", "Vladimir Monomakh"and" Knyaz Oleg". On December 29, 2022, another cruiser, Generalissimo Suvorov, was accepted into the Navy. In 2023, it will move along the NSR to its base in Vilyuchinsk. In the fall of 2022, the Knyaz Oleg and the Project 885M Novosibirsk attack submarine arrived in the Far East. "Novosibirsk" became the first modern attack submarine in Kamchatka in more than 25 years. The previous one was the younger "brother" of "Kursk" — the boat "Tomsk". On December 29, 2022, the flag was also raised on the cruiser "Emperor Alexander III". The Krasnoyarsk Project 885M attack submarine and a number of others are being completed.
Power of Kamchatka
In 2023, the strengthening of the Kamchatka submarine forces will continue. It is interesting to note that in Primorye, the Zvezda plant in Bolshoy Kamen is in the process of upgrading several 949A project boats, in particular Irkutsk and Chelyabinsk, for Kalibr and Zircon missile systems. At the same time, two similar boats of the Northern Fleet that remain in service are not subject to serious modernization work.
Also, Kamchatka submariners will soon receive boats carrying a variety of unmanned vehicles, including the Poseidon megatorpedo. We are talking about the boats "Belgorod" (already accepted into the Navy) and"Khabarovsk". Thus, the scarecrow for American military sailors during the Cold War called "the snake's nest of Soviet submariners" is being revived in a new quality. It should be especially noted that before the arrival of the boats, a huge amount of work was carried out to prepare their base, solve security and supply issues. For the anti-submarine defense of the Okhotsk bastion, it would not hurt to deploy a brigade of non-nuclear submarines. Project 855M attack submarines will have other tasks in the event of war.
In Soviet times, the 171st Submarine Brigade was based in Nagaevo Bay in Magadan. Its purpose was to conduct anti-submarine operations in the Sea of Okhotsk to protect Soviet missile carriers. By the way, the conditions at this base in winter were the most difficult of all possible.
Combat training in Arctic conditions is conducted constantly. In September 2022, during the Vostok-2022 exercise, the Gremyashchy corvette and the coastal defense forces conducted joint missile firing from Matua Island. They were followed by comprehensive exercises Umka-2022 in August-September 2022. During these maneuvers, the Novosibirsk and Omsk submarines, as well as a missile division armed with the Bastion complex, fired together. This complex itself was moved to a distance of about 1300 km. A number of promising samples of all-terrain vehicles were tested over a thousand-kilometer crossing of the Chukchi Tundra. Such equipment is needed for the transfer of troops to remote territories.
An interesting feature of the exercise was tracking the life activity of bears on Wrangel Island using drones. Such developments can also be used to search for terrorists in difficult northern conditions.
Working out the transfer of troops to remote areas of the north-east by various means of transport is one of the main tasks of combat training. It is also promising to deploy special coastal defense units in Chukotka that can detect the enemy as quickly as possible and either destroy it or block it until the main forces approach.
By the way, about the corvette "Gremyashchy". Kamchatka used to host many large warships up to and including missile cruisers. Over the past 20 years, the Kamchatka surface forces have consisted of small missile and anti-submarine ships, that is, ships of the third rank. With the arrival of the "Gremyashchy", ships of the second rank also appeared as part of the surface forces of the Joint Command of Troops and Forces in the north-east of Russia. Together with the "Rattling" was supposed to come and the corvette "Agile", but because of the fire, its arrival in the Pacific Fleet is postponed until about 2024.
At the same time, the Amur Shipyard is building a large batch of corvettes. At least two such ships will arrive in Kamchatka to form a full-fledged battle group of four corvettes. To replace the Soviet-era minesweepers, the forces in Kamchatka have two new Alexandrites: "Yakov Balyaev" and "Pyotr Ilyichev". Other surface elements of the Kamchatka Flotilla are also being updated.
In general, the top military leadership of Russia adequately assesses the prospective threats to the country in the northeast, is engaged in active combat training of units for operations in remote territories and properly strengthens the defense capability of the Russian Federation in this strategic area.
NOTE: the Coastal Rocket brigade covering the Kuriles from 4 bases (battalions) is apparently the 75th Coastal Rocket brigade. The 520th Coastal Rocket brigade is stationed at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and it was one of their Bastion SShM battalions that were redeployed north to the Arctic via LST in the military exercise mentioned in this article. In addition Shoigu had previously announced the formation of a Coastal Defense division to cover the coast line mentioned here. Apparently the first regiment was formed (50th?) and it seems to be designed for mobile defense as opposed to a static defense. No information of the composition of it's units yet.