Posted by: Dark Defender | September 9, 2008

Me vs. IBD

So I was reading IBD today and saw an article which directly contradicted my earlier post dismissing the Russian-Venezuelan naval exercise as sheer propaganda intended for domestic consumption.


Well im here to say IBD is absolutely correct in identifying an American vulnerability.  They are also correct that the submarine not the Russian surface fleet would be the primary weapon against this vulnerability.


However the author appears to be stuck in 1985, as the following graph shows, the Soviet/Russian submarine fleet is a shadow of its former self.  While the Russian fleet itself has declined, more importantly than loss of physical assets is the loss of trained people and missed experience and training. 


Soviet/Russian sub patrols

Soviet/Russian sub patrols

 Please note the graph is cut off click here for the full graph.



The most important indication of the state of the Russian sub feet (and the importance Russia places on it) is demonstrated by the massive drop of  SSN/SSGN/SS patrols, from a high of nearly 140 patrols a year in the early 80s to less than 10 through most of the 90s and 00’s up through the most recent years we have data on speaks volumes about the deterioration of their fleet.


Think about this for a second, the last generation of Russian officers to have experience operating in a “real navy” were around in the 80s.  I would imagine the average age of a Captain is probably 40s-50s meaning the last people with real experience dueling with the US fleet are now in their 60s-70s, and submarining is a high stress game which relies on young people.  It is very doubtful many of these people are even still in the navy after the budget cuts and given the depressing state of their fleet, experienced captains are much more likely to be dueling with the pension office than with the USN. Among lower level officers with less a personal investment in the feet, I imagine attrition has been even higher.


In short the Russian fleet, while certainly having some good ships and an real (though increasingly distant) maritime tradition, is a shadow of its former self, they simply don’t have the experience, training, numbers, or technology to compete with the USN.


Further Soviet and Russian strategy relies on “bastions” to defend their boomers, the idea they are going to “flood the zone” in the Caribbean with what remains of their Submarine fleet during a crisis and thus leaving an important part of their nuclear triad exposed, is fanciful.


As to Venezuela buying subs, they have almost no maritime tradition or experience, perhaps in the long run they will be a threat, but not today or anytime soon.



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