Russia Practiced Destroying an Enemy Carrier Strike Group While the Carl Vinson Was Nearby
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) prepares for flight operations in the Arabian Gulf. Carl Vinson is deployed in the U.S. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alex King)
Russian ships recently practiced destroying a “carrier strike group of a mock enemy” off the coast of Hawaii, according to a statement from the country’s ministry of defense. The exercises come at the same time as the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and ships from its carrier strike group are operating in the area.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, as many as 20 surface warships, submarines and support vessels were involved in the exercises, including the flagship of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, the Slava-class cruiser Varyag, Udaloy-class destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, and Steregushchiy-class corvettes Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov, Gromky and Sovershenniy.
The Russian statement noted that the exercise is the first of its kind “in the recent history of the Pacific Fleet in the central part of the Pacific Ocean.”
The ships were split into two groups, 300 miles apart, with one playing the role of the enemy. They then “figured out how to detect, counter, and deliver missile strikes against an aircraft carrier strike group of a mock enemy,” according to the Russian statement.
The Russians say that their exercises occurred about 2,500 miles southeast of the Kuril Ridge islands. That places the fleet near the Hawaiian islands.
Although the ministry of defence does not give a specific date for the exercises, the statement about the conclusion of the exercises came on June 21. An earlier statement from the Russian state news agency, TASS, reported that a Pacific Fleet flotilla of the same size had “started accomplishing tasks today under the scenario of tactical maneuvers” on June 13.
On June 17, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet announced that the Carl Vinson and five destroyers assigned to Carrier Strike Group 1 had begun operating around Hawaii.
“Operating in Hawaii provides unique opportunities for Vinson to train jointly while positioned to respond if called,” Vice Adm. Steve Koehler, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, said in the statement.
The Navy also noted that the Vinson was recently upgraded to support the new F-35C Lightning II fighter — the first aircraft carrier to have that ability.
Military.com has reached out to the commanders of Pacific Fleet and 3rd Fleet to ask if this deployment was in response to the exercises but did not receive a response.
The Russian military said that its fleet also was supported by Tu-142 aircraft.
The Tu-142 is a derivative of the Tu-95 strategic “Bear” bomber, with specialized equipment to conduct undersea surveillance.
The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that a pair of F-22 Raptors was launched June 18 to investigate “Russian ‘Bear’ bombers headed for the second time toward Hawaii as part of an ongoing Russian naval and air exercise several hundred miles west of the Aloha State.”
The exercise comes as the U.S. Navy anticipates more competition with Russia in the Arctic and the Atlantic and Russian interactions with U.S. aircraft persist.
The Navy’s 6th Fleet also announced it will participate in annual exercises in the Black Sea with Ukraine and other allies starting July 28. These plans drew a rebuke from the Russian embassy on Twitter, which called them “in no way match[ing] the real security needs in the Black Sea region” and “increas[ing] risks of unintended incidents.”