Submarine Sneaks into Beirut? Why That’s Bad

A “Russian submarine” in Beirut was probably one built for Algeria and exported this spring. That’s bad.

Retired Army Major General Paul Vallely spoke to Pajamas Media for a video posted today in which he says a Russian submarine offloaded hazardous cargo in Beirut a “couple of weeks ago.”  This is something I had heard from another source last week.  I imagine the ultimate source is Israeli intelligence.

According to MG Vallely, the Russian submarine flew the flag of Iran while it was in port Beirut.  He indicated the sub probably came from the Baltic, but offered no other details.

My assessment:  the report has a strong likelihood of being valid, but I doubt the submarine in question is a unit of the Russian Navy. Continue reading “Submarine Sneaks into Beirut? Why That’s Bad”


Red Sun, Narrowed Eyes

Obama’s “diplomacy of deference” is producing a Japan That Can Say Go Away.

The erratic diplomacy of the Obama administration is already bearing unsavory fruit in a quarter Americans have long thought of as relatively stable:  our relations with Japan.  Notwithstanding the president’s unseemly bow to Emperor Akihito in November, the alliance is more strained in late 2009 than at any time since 1945.  Asian editorialists discern strategic implications in a flurry of visits between Japan and China in the last month.  And Team Obama, along with the Western media, has been largely silent on the visit to Japan of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, during Christmas week.

The major point of contention between the US and Japan, the Marine Corps air base at Futenma, on Okinawa, involves legitimate concerns on both sides. Continue reading “Red Sun, Narrowed Eyes”

Dolphins Still Aground

Israel’s new Dolphins look to still be in Germany. Don’t look for nuclear missiles from Dolphins if Israel uses them in a strike on Iran.

Uh-boy.  AFP laid an oeuf and a half, it looks like, with its now-near-viral report that the Israelis have taken delivery of their two new U212 “Dolphin” submarines from Germany – a year early.

This thing is all over the web, but more sober (and credible) commentary suggests the report isn’t true.  See this squib from Information Dissemination:  Galrahn’s source at Janes says the submarines are still in the yards at HDW (the German manufacturer), and a reader comments that he saw the bow section of one of the Dolphins under construction in the yards three weeks ago.  He accurately points out that that doesn’t represent enough time for the submarine to have moved from Germany to Israel.  The initial sea trials – in Germany – alone would take longer than that.

Of course, it won’t hurt Israel’s rep any for this word to remain out there, generating speculation about Israeli military prowess (and secretiveness).  We should not expect any watershed moments of public correction.

But this is as good a time as any to make a couple of points about these new submarines. Continue reading “Dolphins Still Aground”

Buffoonery at Sea

M/V Arctic Sea: what a mess. More than one possibility to explain what happened with her.

Admin note for readers: I am away from the home computer and helping a relative recovering from surgery at the moment, which is why my postings will be scarce for a while. Expect a return to more frequent posting by mid-September. Meanwhile, enjoy the August “silly season” amongst yourselves.

The last chapter on M/V Arctic Sea is yet to be written. But there are enough bizarre events reported already in this ship’s latest voyage to keep maritime intelligence analysts busy for weeks. Nothing adds up. However, if we employ subtraction as well as addition, at least some of the results come to less than zero, and can therefore, from the standpoint of intelligence analysis, be discounted.

The competing theories on Arctic Sea are as follows: that her disappearance between 29 July and 17 August from standard satellite transponder tracking was due to a genuine hijacking, or that it was arranged by the Russians to cover a diversion of the ship, possibly for delivery of prohibited goods.

Moscow’s public actions throughout the drama have appeared consistent with the first explanation, if somewhat plagued by logical gaps. Continue reading “Buffoonery at Sea”

Sharks… across the Rubicon?

Russkis, at it again. Attack submarines patrolling off the US coast for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Defense Department officials are reporting that two Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) are operating in the North Atlantic, off the East coast of North America. (H/t — Allahpundit at Hot Air.)  Both are reportedly Akula-class (“Shark”) SSNs, and at least one is an Akula-II, a modified Akula variant that is the Russian navy’s most modern attack submarine.  (That feature must be taken in the context of Russia’s generally aging fleet, and the fact that Russia was willing to lease an Akula-II to India last year.  The technology of the Akula-II’s propulsion and major combat systems is 20 or more years old.) According to press reporting, at least one of the submarines has come as close as 200 miles off the coast.  As of 4 August, one of the SSNs was known to have headed south, possibly for a port call in Cuba (still unconfirmed), and the other is reported to be operating near Greenland. Continue reading “Sharks… across the Rubicon?”