October 25 Edition published an article by Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Not Too Close for US Comfort (“Russian ships near communication cables interfere with US comfort”) written by David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt. The authors of this publication raised the most important, as it seems to them, question of the security of the United States. As it turned out, Russia represents a serious threat not only for the United States as a whole, but also for American communications. A number of officials and experts are concerned about Moscow’s possible existence of plans to destroy communication lines.
The article begins with a direct statement of the "facts". It is alleged that Russian submarines and reconnaissance ships are conducting aggressive activities near the most important submarine cables, through which data transmission is ensured. Similar activities of the Russian fleet became a cause for concern among the US military and security forces. They believe that in the event of a conflict, the Russian fleet could strike at underwater communications.
The authors note that this time the question is much more complicated and serious than before. This is not about the technologies of the Cold War, when the intelligence officers of the two countries tried to connect to someone else's cables and obtain the necessary data. Now the question is hypothetical destruction of communication lines. In theory, Russian specialists are able to cut the most important submarine cables of the United States, which is why government, military and civilian structures will be left without communication.
Sanger and Schmitt admit that at the moment Russian saboteurs have not cut a single American cable. However, the very possibility of implementing such plans becomes a cause for concern. The fears of the American military and politicians are growing, they are afraid of expanding the capabilities of Russia and activating its activities in different parts of the world. In addition, the debates in Washington are increasingly showing that the American leadership is prone to Cold War time stamps and examines all of Moscow’s steps through the prism of deep distrust and suspicion.
The Pentagon and US intelligence organizations are in no hurry to publish their data on the state of the Russian navy. This information is classified and its details cannot be discussed publicly. Officials try not to comment on current work in this direction, in particular, plans and methods to counter possible sabotage or repair damaged lines. At the same time, more than a dozen unnamed sources of The New Your Times confirmed that the topic of possible destruction of submarine cables was seriously interested by the US military.
Apparently, anxiety has reached even the highest circles of the Pentagon. D. Sanger and E. Schmitt cite the words of Rear Admiral Frederick J. Regge, commander of the submarine forces of the US Navy Pacific Fleet. The rear admiral asserts that every day he is concerned about what the Russians can do. At the same time, Reggae did not directly comment on the possible existence of Russian plans for the destruction of American communication cables.
Commander William Marx, a representative of the naval forces in Washington, said that the destruction of submarine cables by any country would be a big problem. However, he noted that due to the secrecy inherent in underwater operations, such issues are not widely discussed.
In private conversations, naval commanders and representatives of intelligence structures, however, express different opinions. According to sources from Sanger and Schmitt, in the North Sea, the seas of Northeast Asia and even in close proximity to the shores of North America, an increased activity is observed near the places of laying the main submarine cables. Someone is showing an interest in major well-known cables, vital for global communications and commerce.
Not so long ago, in September of this year, the attention of American specialists was riveted on the Russian “spy ship” (reconnaissance ship) “Yantar”. A “spy ship”, equipped with two deep-water submersibles, passed along the East Coast of the United States and headed for Cuba. At the same time, the ship was located at a small distance from one of the main communication cables that go ashore at the base in Guantanamo Bay. American intelligence constantly accompanied Yantar with satellites, ships, and airplanes. Officials claim that the Russian “ship-spy” has the ability to launch deep-water vehicles that can sink to the bottom and cut the necessary cable.
The unnamed high-ranking European diplomat, commenting on the existing “level of activity” in the areas of communications, argues that he is comparable to that observed during the years of confrontation between the United States and the USSR.
Norway, a member of NATO, is so concerned about the current situation that it was forced to seek help from the Allies in the Alliance. The Norwegian leadership expects that other countries of the organization will assist him in tracking Russian submarines that may be located near the coast of the country.
An interesting comment was made by Admiral James Stavridis, who previously held leading positions in NATO, and now works in the School of Law and Diplomacy. Fletcher at Tufts University. Admiral believes that the current история the threat to submarine cables is another example of an assertive and aggressive regime (presumably Russia is meant), who decided to return to the tools of the Cold War, even if using modern technologies.
According to The New York Times journalists, hypothetical operations to destroy communication lines correspond to the current Russian concept of the use of armed forces abroad. Earlier, the Russian armed forces carried out operations demonstrating from might in the Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and Syria, and now they are preparing for action off the coast of a potential enemy.
Former director of a joint research project at Harvard University and MIT, Michael Sekrist offers a different perspective on the hypothetical destruction of submarine cables. He believes that any country can break such communications without revealing itself or even possessing special ships with the necessary equipment for cutting.
Moreover, underwater communication lines are damaged all the time. They are hooked by anchors, they are exposed to natural disasters, etc. Similar features of the operation of submarine communication lines were described in the work of Secrist, published in 2012 year. The theme of this work was the sustainability and survivability of underwater communication networks. At that time, the specialist noted that the majority of cable damage occurs at a distance of several miles from the coast, thanks to which the repair lasts no more than a few days.
In this case, the reason for the concern of American commanders may be that Russian specialists are looking for deep-sea cable sections. If the cable is damaged in a remote area at a great depth, repair of the communication line will be difficult.
M. Sekrist notes that the location of most submarine cables is not a secret. Laying routes do not change since the creation of the first lines - from the sixties of the XIX century. The fact is that the operators of communication channels did not want to lay new lines in unfamiliar places.
However, there are various secret lines of communication, the location of which is not subject to disclosure. Such cables were pulled by the military and security forces of the United States to provide communication between various objects. Such cables are not available on public maps and it is quite possible that the task of the Russian ships is precisely the search for such secret military lines.
The authors of the Russian Ships Near Data Cables aren’t close to US Comfort article that remind us that underwater communication cables currently play a special role in the economy. With their help, the global financial system with a turnover of about 10 trillion dollars a day. Every second a huge amount of data about transactions and other information passes through the cables. Any disruption of communication can hit the economy of almost the entire world. In addition, submarine cables account for about 95% other traffic information.
The importance of submarine cables is recognized by the state. For example, the US Department of Homeland Security refers the onshore facilities of cable lines (most of these facilities are located in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles) to the so-called. critical infrastructure.
The authors of The New York Times remind that underwater cable lines are not the first to become the object of interest of law enforcement agencies and special services. So, in October 1971, the crew of a special submarine USS Halibut took part in the operation Ivy Bells. The submarine arrived in the waters of the Sea of Okhotsk and discovered one of the Soviet submarine cables through which communication was carried out between various objects of the Pacific Fleet. A special device for picking up and recording a signal was installed on the cable. In the future, American experts conducted several similar operations on other lines of communication.
In the middle of the last decade, the submarine USS Jimmy Catrer was put into operation, which carries a set of special equipment. The exact composition of the equipment and the construction of the submarine was not announced. According to some reports, it can be used to "listen" underwater communication lines.
D. Sanger and E. Schmitt note that such tasks can be performed not only by submarines. For example, it was suspicion of espionage that caused the Yantar vessel to be constantly accompanied by American intelligence during a recent voyage. At the same time, official Moscow claims that this is an oceanographic vessel without any reconnaissance equipment.
The authors also recall that the existence of a hypothetical possibility of the destruction of submarine cables is only one of many reasons for concern related to the modernization of the Russian Navy.
In October, Admiral Mark Ferguson, commander of US naval forces in Europe, delivered a report in Washington. He stated that the professionalism and operational readiness of the submarine forces of the Russian fleet is constantly growing.
Referring to public statements by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, M. Ferguson said that over the past year the intensity of underwater patrols has increased by 50%. Current growth exceeds the last decade. Ferguson also noted the modernization program of the Black Sea Fleet with a total value of about 2,4 billion US dollars, as well as the development of groups in the Arctic. All this shows that Russia intends to develop military infrastructure on the flanks.
There is also information on the development of a promising unmanned underwater vehicle that can carry nuclear weapons. Such a device can be used to attack coastal targets, including naval bases.
Admiral Ferguson drew the attention of listeners to the features of the emerging Russian military doctrine. In his opinion, Moscow intends to use the methods of the so-called. hybrid warfare. To achieve their goals, the armed forces, special operations forces, and various technical means specific to the current time will be used. The concept of a hybrid war involves the use of real space, as well as information systems, etc. In particular, at sea, attempts will be made to break the existing links between the structures.
It seems that the current discussion of the hypothetical possibility of the Russian fleet to destroy submarine communication cables is a direct continuation of the recent history of the campaign of the oceanographic vessel "Yantar". Recall, the Russian sailors were at some distance from the shores of North America, but still attracted the attention of the American military, analysts and journalists. One of the results of this campaign was a wave of publications with attempts to guess the targets of the ship. Among other things, Yantar was accused of espionage, but acceptable evidence of this was not presented.
The idea expressed by the publication of The New York Times about the possible destruction of submarine cables is of particular interest. Indeed, serious damage or the complete disrepair of such a means of communication can cause great damage to the economy, industry, the media and even ordinary people. It is for this reason that even a fictional threat to communications can be a cause for panic or, at least, for increased interest from the press and the public.
However, in the context of such an attack of communications, only the oceanographic vessel Yantar is mentioned, which, as far as is known, simply does not have the ability to cut protected submarine cables. This feature of the “sensation” can be the reason for serious doubts in the realism of the described situation. As a result, the picture proposed by D. Sanger and E. Schmitt raises a lot of questions and can hardly be considered plausible. From this we can draw the appropriate conclusions. Apparently, The New York Times not only raised the issue of the security of communications in their country, but also “spiced up” this topic with a complex political situation and the confrontation between the United States and Russia.
Article by Ships Near Data Cables Russian Ships Close for US Comfort: