Syria: US-Russia military escalation in eastern Med

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Another 10 warships joining those already deployed near Syria

06 September, 20:03


(ANSAmed) – NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 6 – As diplomatic tensions over the Syrian crisis rise between the US and Russia, the escalation between the two superpowers is also playing out in terms of their respective warships in the waters off the embattled Arab nation ahead of a possible strike against the Damascus regime.

While there were 19 warships in the eastern Mediterranean just a few days ago – eight American, five Russian, five British and one French – that sector is about to get much more crowded in the next few hours with the arrival of four US ships, including an aircraft carrier, and six Russian ones.

THE US’ nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is in the Red Sea along with four ships from its strike group: the Princeton cruiser plus the William P. Lawrence, Stockdale and Shoup destroyers. They are awaiting orders to enter the Mediterranean in case of a strike. The USS Nimitz has 3,200 seamen, 2,480 pilots and 90 aircraft, both warplanes and helicopters.

The USS Princeton carries 390 troops and is armed with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, while the other three ships have 380 crew and marines on board and are packing Tomahawk missiles.

This group has joined five missile-equipped destroyers already in the area: the USS Stout, Mahan, Ramage, Barry and Graveley, each with 280 troops on board. They can intercept ballistic missiles and launch Tomahawk missiles, and will team up with two nuclear-propelled guided-missile submarines, the USS Florida and Georgia, each with a crew of 140. These are ported at the Souda Bay naval base on the Greek island of Crete, along with the USS San Antonio, an amphibious landing ship carrying 700 seamen and 360 Marines.

RUSSIA has deployed four large but aging landing ships: the Kaliningrad, the Shabalin, the Saratov and the Avoz. Each with a crew of 90-100, they can transport up to 200 tanks and 350 soldiers, and are equipped with surface-to-air missiles. Also in the area is the Smetlivy submarine destroyer, which hails from 1967 and has a crew of 300. It is armed with Uran anti-ship missiles and is transporting an anti-submarine Kamov Ka-25 helicopter. They will be backed up within days by an anti-submarine destroyer (probably the Admiral Chabanenko) and the Moskva guided missile cruiser. The Admiral Chabanenko (manned by 300) is armed with SS-N-14 Silex anti-submarine missiles and SA-N-9 Gauntlet surface-to-air missiles.

The Moskva (500 men) is equipped with 8X8 S-300 PMU Favorit missile launchers, which can intercept cruise and anti-ship missiles. It is also packing 16 P-500 Bazalt anti-ship missiles, each with a range of over 500 kilometers. Three Russian amphibious assault ships yesterday crossed from the Black Sea into the Bosphorus Strait: the intelligence and reconnaissance ship Priazovye with 140 men on board, and two landing ships, the Novocherkassk and the Minsk, each with a crew of 90 and capable of transporting up to 10 tanks and 340 soldiers. Also on Friday, Russia’s large landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov left Sevastopol for Novorossiysk, from where it will depart for the coast of Syria.

THE UK’s Royal Navy has deployed the Illustrious helicopter carrier (685 men), the Bulwark landing ship (325 men) and two frigates, the Montrose and the Westminster (185 men each, armed with Harpoon and Sea Wolf missiles). They are supported by a submarine which is almost certainly the Tireless, with 130 men and armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

FRANCE’s ultra modern anti-aircraft Chevalier Paul frigate is also deployed off the Syrian coast. Carrying 200 men, it is armed with 32 Aster-30 long-range missiles, 16 Aster-15 mid-range missiles and eight MM 40 Exocet Block III anti-ship missiles, guided by a powerful three-dimensional radar that can frame targets over 200 kilometers away. (ANSAmed).

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