Russian forces in the Mediterranean - Wk45/2021

Task Force Composition

As reported by OSINT at noon of November 13

Weekly Brief

A small Russian task force of one frigate and one patrol vessel arrived in Algeria by the end of the week in order to take part in a joint naval training exercise. The exercise is expected to last by the end of next week.
Russian forces stationed at Tartus appear to experimenting with means on how to hide their vessels in port from commercial satellite images. Several smoke generators were observed turned on when a satellite passed overhead. The smoke however failed to spread out and hide the port. As such, the naval activity within the port remained clearly visible, only to be interrupted by small strokes of smoke. The majority of the task force however was at sea during the passage, leaving only one Improved Kilo class submarine and the Ropucha class LST RFS Tsezar Kunikov  in port.

Daily Events

November 07
Moma class intelligence collection vessel RFS Kildin was reported moored in the port of Oman. The vessel was photographed next to the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen which is part of the UK carrier strike group. The photograph was dated November 01 [1].
The departure of the RFS Kildin from the Mediterranean was not reported. However, her small size and appearance make her look like a fishing trawler and as such, her passage through the Suez canal remained unnoticed.

Natya class minehunter RFS Vitse-Admiral Zakharyin passed the Bosporus and headed towards the Mediterranean [2].

Sorum class rescue tug MB-304 transited the Bosporus on her way towards the Mediterranean. The vessel was seen towing a Grachonok class counter-sabotage patrol craft, identified as the RFS Kadet [3].

November 10
Satellite imagery, provided by Maxar, showed the port of Tartus, Syria, at an unspecified date. Several smoke generators were seen laying a smoke curtain over the port. The smoke curtain however was not large enough to cover the entirety of the port and most structures and vessels remained visible [4].
Most Russian vessels were not observed in port with only one Improved Kilo class submarine and the Ropucha class LST RFS Tsezar Kunikov being present in port. The other vessels of the task force were at sea, three of them were allegedly spotted in a line ahead formation with each vessel trailing smoke in order to mask the vessels behind them.
The smoke laying operation was not reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense, suggesting that it was not an scheduled exercise and rather a deliberate test to see if the port of Tartus could be masked and prevent decent commercial satellite imagery being taken from the Russian vessels in port.

November 13
Two Russian warship, Grigorovich class frigate RFS Admiral Grigorovich and Bykov class patrol vessel RFS Dmitry Rogachev, together with rescue tug SB-742 have arrived at the port of Algiers. The Russian vessels will train together with the Algerian Navy until November 20th as part of the international exercise "Joint naval maneuvers - 2021" [5].


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