The Akula Threat
Jane's Defence Weekly, 1996. Vol. 25,
Issue 01

The US Navy has confirmed that a Russian Akula submarine operated until the middle of last month in international waters off the north-west coast of the USA. The submarine was in a position to monitor Trident submarine activity at the base of Bangor, Washington.

This is the fourth recent case of Russian submarines tracking the US Navy. The Russian Navy has denied the latest incident. US Defense Secretary William Perry confirmed the intermittent presence of Russian submarines in international waters off the USA, but said: "While the Russians have a very capable submarine fleet, we have no reason to expect any negative intentions towards US forces."

Akula submarinePerry's statement underscores US Navy concern that the Russian Navy is reasserting its open ocean capabilities after reduced operations in recent years due to budget constraints.

There is also growing concerns that Russian submarine quieting technology for the Severodvinsk, and its improved version, may be able to challenge US submarines at tactical running speeds. In September last year, an Oscar II submarine tracked the US aircraft carrier Independance in the western Pacific as it headed for the Persian Gulf. The submarine then turned to the mid-Pacific to track the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. Last August, an Oscar II operated in the mid-Atlantic near the aircraft carrier America.

Earlier last year, an improved Akula operated off the east coast of the USA, causing tracking problems for the US Navy.