SOVIET NAVAL ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE HOME WATERS IN 1985 (SOV 86-10047C)

Created: 10/1/1986

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Soviet Naval Activities Outside Home Waters5

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS9

Soviet Naval Activities Outside Home Waters5

A Research Paper

Soviei Naral Activities Outside Home Waters5

Informationf SI6

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activities in the calendar5 were highlighted by the following operations that have implications for wartime:

Antisubmarine warfare (ASW( operations off lhe US cast and west coasts thatecord number of Victor-das* submarines in areas where the Sovieu probably expect US ballistic missile submarines (SSBNsI to Operate.

Large-scale exercises in the Atlantic and the Pacific that featured the most elaborate depiction to date of US navalthe Soviets secthairend toward extending the area where the Soviet Navy plans lo engage Western naval forces in wartime.

Increased operation of naval aircraft from airfields in Libya and Syria to monitor Western naval forces.

Continued development of the naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, and the South China Sea Squadron's first observed complex exercise, which emphasized anticarrier strike operations.

these developments, the level of Soviet out-of-area naval operations, as measured by ship-daypresence of one ship away from home waters for onelimited to aboutercent of the Navy's available unitsaily average, The Soviet naval presence outside home waters5 decreasederceni from the record level achievedoviet naval presence increased slightly in lheand South China Seas; remained about the same in the Caribbean Sea, West African waters, and the Atlantic Ocean; and declined in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Reverie

SOV H6 twite(van

I on ion Is

Scmma ry

Ocean

Operation* OIT lhe US Fan Coast

Ship Investigations in Baffin Bay

Western Fleets Exercise

Sea

African

Scj

Ocean

Ocean

China Sea

Analysis; Wartime Operation* of the So.,et Navy in the South China Sea

Forces and Capabilities

Forces and Capabilities

TienOsiCise,

US Bates in the Philippines

Inicidictiort

iit,iifmenT'.

Defense

Combatants

Purpose Submarines

Overseas Factiiues and Anchorages Used by Soviei Naval Forces

Deployment AreasS Ship-Days of So.ictie II

Figure 1

Soviet Ship-Days In DistanttVS5

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soviet naval activities outside home waters5

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Tbe Soviet naval presence outside borne waters5 decreased from tbe preceding year's record level of0 ship-days to0 ship-days {see figure I) (We use the yearly tabulation ol ship-days- tho presence of one ship away from home waters for oneoompnie deployment levels with those of preceding years and to identifychanges in deploymentoviet naval presence tncrcased slightly in the Mediterranean and South China Seas, remained about tbe same in the Caribbean Sea, West African waters, and theOcean, and declined in the Pacific and Indian Oceans (see

Atlantic Ocean

Analysis of sbip-days data iodicates the overall Soviet naval rjresence in the open Atlantic5 remained about the same as in recent years (see

Figure 2

soviet ship-days lo distant waters, by

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July by tbe first appearance ever in Balttn Dayoviet navalhydrographic research vessel that may have been investigating the area foruse by Soviet submarines^

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Submarine Operations Off the US East Coast

A force of five Victor-class nuclear-powered attack submarinesn intdligeoce collectionydrographic research shipnd fourong-range antisubmarine warfare (AS Wj aircraft (operaliDg out of Cuba) deployed from their Northern Fleet bases in early June lo an arcsnortheast of Bermuda (sec figure 4)

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Figure 3

Soviet Ship-Days id tbe Atlantic'

' Auxiliary Amphibian

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warfare

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poipw aubmrinei RiJIblif mimic lubntuinei

thec believe, therefore, thai it is unlikely that regular anii-SSBN patrols ofT the US coasts will be resumed until such time as qualitative improvements in Soviet SSNs alter the Soviets'of their chances for success. We arc riot certain whether the Soviets intend additional trials of anti-SSBN operations by groups of submarines.C

Although the Soviets continue lo patrol Yankee- and Delta-class SSBNs close lo the US

jitia ii uue in paneduction in the number of^ available Northern Fleet Yankee-class SSBNs, which tbe Soviets continued lo dismantle in compliance wilh arms control requirements. There was no significant change in the overall Northern Fleet SSBN presence in terms of ship-days

Hydrographic Ship kairstigations in Baffin Bay Tbe same Soviet hydrographic ship that participated in the June ASW operations off the US east coastC Jipcraiing in Baffin Bay in July, f

writings acknowledge tbe enormous firepower present iningle Western SSBN and recognize the desirability of attacking such units before they fire their missiles.

Despite the high priority that lhe Soviets give this mission, the acoustic disadvantages of theirstill limit their capability to carry it oul^

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Tbe Soviets may have been investigating the Baffin Bay area for use by submarines. The Bay and its ^joining straits, which'arc ice-covered part of the

umber ofstrategic uses for Soviet submarines, including use as an SSBN or cruise missile patrol area. This is the first known operation by the Soviet Navy in Baffin Bay.

Ithat tile Navy was not satisfied

Major Western Fleets Exercise

A large exercise conducted in the North Atlantic

Ocean and Norwegian Sea

The exercise.

Jwas carried out in two phases. Phase one emphasized ASW and reconnaissance;

Approximately HO ships. XL,

Jlrom the USSR's three western fleets participated

Phase two emphasized aaiisurface warfare:

There were no significant changes ia Seme! naval presence levels and no unusual orjeratkms in the Caribbean5 (sec figurewo Soviei tnfval task groups deployed to Cuba, markinghh such deployments.

exercise probably was designedesi of lhe Nonhern Fleet's ability toultiple carrier bai tie group threat.

West African Waters

The Soviei Navy maintained its smallAfrican patrol5 at aboul the same level as inminor surface combatant, one minesweeper, and an occasional diescl-powered general purpose submarine

> ignrc 7

Soviet Skdp-Days In ihe Caribbean

Figure 8

Savjrt Saun-lHya Off Weil

his patrol was crated1 in response to the seiiurc of Soviet fishing vesseb by tbe Ghanaian Navy for violations of fishing regulations. Inoroccan palrol boatsoviet fish factory ship for fishingicense. This was the first such incidentoroccan seizure in

Tbe wartime utilityypical West African patrol's

combatants would be limited by its smalllack

of adequate loglstio support and ordnance reloads.rxonnaissancc aircraft deployed to Luanda in wartime would be unable to reach tbe major cross-Atlantic sea lanes used by US forces and shipping.

Mediterranean Sea

The Soviet naval presence in the Mediterranean5 locj^aued slightly over4 level (see figure?)

) IgUlr 9

Soviet Ship-Days Id the Mi'il iii ii

ype

Mm warfare

ISurface combatants

Oeneiil purpos* tubminnes

tbouundi of din

0

c

two-ihirds ofSoviet ship's lime is spent at alienor.

Tbe Soviets increased their use of Libya and Syria for the forward deployment of naval aircraft, thereby improving their capability to monitor Ihe eastern iind cential Mediterranean.^

J US carrier pilots identilied two of the badgers as pfaoloreconnaissance models, and the Ihitd probably wat usedommunications relay ptat-form f*

If Syria or Libya were lo continue to permit Soviet access lo their airfields during tbe period of tensionsATO-Warsaw Pact war, the Soviet Navy wouldarticularly valuable, although exposed, asset. Reconnaissance Rights from these bases could help track Western naval forces for an initial strike. If Western aircraft chose to deny the Soviets use of the air, however, there is little they could do to continue Operations because they would lack adequate lighter cover

ladiaa Ocean

5 the sire of the Iodise Ocean squadron decreased5 percent, bnngtng it downevel comparable to that in theefore tbe Soviet and Western naval reinforcement of lhe region (see. The change in size reflects only minor diflercnecs io tbe composition of the squadron from Ibc previous year, however. The presence of general purpose submarines increased slightly front two to an average of two or three, although tho Sovieu maia-Inincd the daily presence typicalaingle nuclear-powered, guided-missile unitiescl torpedo attack unit. The average number of surface combatants present declined from Ihree ships to two. Tbe presence of auxiliaries and amphibious and mine warfare units changed very little. Tbe reduction in the number of researchfour or five on the average to two orfor much of the overall decline in the size of the squadron

The squadron's unusually low level ofxcept for lT

^squadron units made show-ibe-Bag and replentshmenl port calls in several littoral nations, most notably in Seychelles, where visits in support of the Rene regime have become Almost routine.'

The Soviets' efforts to expand tbeir naval access to Indian Ocean naiions continued5 but without any significant known success. Inhe first and only visit of the Soviet May ASW aircraft to Mozambique occurred f"

Urn it 10

So.iel Ship-Days in Ihe Indianigure 11

Snriti Ship-Days ia (he

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May nirctaft remained on continuous deploy-man! a) Al Anad Airfield in South Yemen, aa in the pasl. The Soviets have not sent Mays back: toIV Airfield In Ethiopia, where two Mays were present before the rebel attack in4 that damaged or destroyed both aircraft. Anotherrebel attack: against the airfield occurredumber of Ethiopian aircraft. Renewal of Soviet May operations from Johannes IV thus seems even more unlikely in the near future.

fewer submarine transits to and from Cam Ranh Day.ecline in the average presertee ofships in the Pacific, from five units down" to three or four units, also helped lower the Pacific total (seetatistics on the Pacific ship-days have been calculated for1

A lafge-scale Soviet Pacific Fleet exercise in5 contained an unusually high amount of oui-of-area activity. T

Pacific Ocean

Soviet oul-of-area ship-days in the open Pacificl) perceniTie presence of general purposebad risen substantially inby almostercent. The drop reflected

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Special Analysis: Wartime Operations of the Soviet Nary in ihe South China Sea

orces and Capabilities The Soviets' naval operations in the South China Sea from91 grew from small naval task groups making occasional port calls and ibe periodic deploymentair of Bear aircraft to thepresence of two or three submarines, several surfaceumber of auxiliaries,air each ofndircraft. Some support facilities were obtained at Cam Ranh Bay during this period, but auxiliaries provided most of iltc services al the porl while naval transport aircraft provided the support for the Bears at the airfield.

Rxercise activity by Soviet naval forces in the South China Sea during this period was rudimentary and one dimensional*^

.South China Sea

Improvements to and expansion of the facilities at Cam Ranh Baylong with recentin the ccanmand and control of naval forces based there.

^ atl the South China Sea force Masqujuson formation. Thesealso indicate lhai tbe Soviets believe the squadron at Cam Ranh Bayiable regional role in conducting wartime operations against US and Western naval forces Because of the significance of the squadron's capability,xamine its growth over the last seven years in Ihe following section

in other Soviet naval formations oepioyed outsioe Soviet homcwatcrs. activity was limited by Western standards: exercises occurred only periodically, training wat low key. and operational naval palrols and air minions in the Soulh China Sea region generally followed established patlerns.

This force was adequate, however, to undertake some of the missions that the Soviets would assign to out-of-area forces during the transition to and early phasesS-Soviei war. The most important of these, and one common to out-of-area units, would be lheof up-to-date intelligence and targeting data oo major US and allied naval forces, such as aircraft carriers and plat forms equipped with cruise missilt potential nuclear threats to the Soviei homeland.

mission that would be assigned to out-of-arca forces probably wouldtacks on allied naval or merchant shipping. Soviet exercises haveplanning for attacks against Westernsometimes in conjunctionlong-range strikefrom the Sovietthe Soviet naval squadrons in lhe Mediterranean Sea and live Indian Ocean The Soulh China Sen force in the

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did noi have the benefit o( itrikc aircraft, however, and probably would have been capable of limited interdiction of tea lines of communication (SLOC) only in tbe absence of significant Western assets. Tbe lack of adequate support facilities for vrartutre use ia all distant area formations, including Cam Raxth before the boildap. further limited the mbiliTy of this force for combat with Western forces and its ability toampaign against Western SLOCshort period.'

A second general mission for out-of-area formations almost certainly would be lo delay and divert Western naval and air forces from higher priority missions nearer the Soviei Union. The force present at Cam Ranh in the, though small, might have been sufficient to divert significant Western forces, such as one or more aircraft carrier battle groups or US Air Force formations.

CaurcBt Forces and Capab laities

5 the South China Sea naval tqaadron's size differed link from thai4 (see. Tbe composition of this force generally matched that seen in the second halfne major and six minor combatants, aboutr more auxiliary ships, plus small numbers of mine warfare, amphibious, and hydrographic research ships. The average number ofrpose submarines present droppedowever, down from an average of four to only three.

The COTpoOiioo of the naval aircraft at Cam Ranh remained tbe same as in the preceding year. Sixteen Badger bomber and3 andrxcaent as were fourSW and foureconnaissance aircraft.Floeeer fighters also remained posted there.

Soviet Ship-Days Id the Soulh China*

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2

-

Ibouuiuli of days 6

Construction and renovation continued at Camsupport of the airfield and the port

including construction of an earthen causewayew Soviet floating pier. This pier will be lhe seventh pier at Cam Ranh and tbe fifth pier the Soviets have built. When complete, ibc pier will help alleviate tbe crowding the port facility has experienced in the last few years.

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The presence of Ihe Midway bailie group gave the South China Sea squadron the opportunity toanticarrierof the primary wartime missions of Soviet navala real target. According to Soviet doctrine and exerejses.ignificantly largertwo or more regiments of missile-equipped aircraft, submarines, and surface-launched antiship cruisebe requireduccessful attackestern carrier battle group.

Significance

We believe that the Soviets regard most unitsto distant waters in wartime to be expendable, particularly in exchange for the delay, diversion, or destruction of Western carriers or oiber nuclear-capable units far from the Soviet homeland and the operating areas of SSBNs. If such Western units were noi in the region at (he onset of hostilities, we believe that (he squadron would still remain in the Souih China Sea. If Cam Ranh were operational, the force could undertake some limited offensive operations, not only for the damage tbey might cause, but to increase the possible diversion of Western forces to the region, for example, by attacking US bases in tbe Philippines and SLOC interdiction.

Attacking US Baits in iht Philippines, The Badger squadron couldaid or scries of raids, depending on the rale or casualties, against the US bases using bombs against land targets, aniiship missiles against ships at Subic Bay, or mines against Subic, other ports, and Philippine waters. Thewould be beyond the range of fighter escort byoggers at Cam Ranh.

SLOCe Badgers could mount anti-SLOC strikes against shipping in the region. The Badgers aad theSW aircraft, as well as submarines and surface units al Cam Ranh. could undertakein defense of Cam Ranh and against sea lanes and straits General purpose submarines in the region could also be used in an ami-SLOC role, although (he lusiainabilliy ofampaign depends on tbe continued existence of support auxiliaries at Cam Ranh for replenishment and ordnance resupply. (

Alternatively, without the presencearrier or other priority targets, the Soviets couldore passive strategy, dispersing their own forces to alter* nate airfields, ports, anchorages, or operating areas. Limited ami-SLOC missions couldart of this strategy, via mining or submarine attack The Soviets would hope to tic down Western forces Ihat might already be in the area, tech as ASW aircraft aod nuclear attack submarines, and potentialto theair formations or aircraft carriers fora not inconsiderable amount of time.

We believe that in any likely scenario at the onsetS-Soviet war the Soviets would probably have more io gain by leaving the squadron in the South China Sea than by attempting to pull it back io the main Pacific Fleet wartime operation areas before or during bostihties. The squadron israction of the force available to the Pacific theater ia wartime andmainly of older, less capable platforms. Tbe relative perrxption of tbe capabtUt&of tbe force, however, is magnified by iu deptoymenl to tbe Souih China Sea. This is especially the case because tbe future of US bases in the region may be in doubt.

Future DeselopmenU

Tbe command and control, communications,and logistic facilities al Cam Ranh Bay are takingore permanent nature, suggesting the Soviets intend toong-term commitment toaval presence ia the region.

We believe that the gradual improvement of forces and support structure at Cam Ranh will continue.

Mosl ol ihe deployed forces, however, probably will continuee older units or small numbers of newer, more capable lypes as modernization of Ihe Pacific Fleet com forward,

Aviation. The Soviets apparently view the current strencih of Ihe Badger unit at Cam Ranh to be adequate (seehe airfield couldtwice the number of Badgers deployed,umber of Badgers are in storage in the Pacific Fleet. Al: -iunlikely, future rina/cnTajanuvat, pcttepleriod of rising tensions preceding war. cannot be ruled out Occasional staging of Pacific Reel Backfire aircraft to Cam Ranh.emporary show of force as an csample, is possible II is unlikely that Backfires would be permanently stationed ai Cam Ranh or be present there in wartime because tbey have higher priority missions. Constraints of numbers aod missions make increasins theomponent at Cam Ranh unlikely also.'

Air Defense. Increasing tbe number of fishier aircraft at Cam Ranhossibility. If the Soviets wish to upgrade the air defense of Ihe base further, however, they might introduce Soviet surface-io-air missile units or equip the present Vietnamese air defense forces in the region with more modern systems.

and the flexibility they oiler the Soviets for the various missions they may undertake in Ihe region, p

We do not believe that any or al) of these possible developments would seriously alter the wartimeor missions of the South China Sea squadron. Tbe anticarrier warfare and anti-SLOC roles of ibe force would bcnefil from additional strike aircraft or submarines. The defense of Cam Ranh itself might improve tubus ntially with deployment of more Soviet air defense units or equipment, i

The expansion of logistic and support infrastructure al Cam Ranh will probably at least marginallyIhe capability of theajor shift from Boating auxiliary support to onshore support at tbe port would create more space for combatants and other nonsupport ships. This seems an unlikelyfor Ihe Soviets io make, although the presence of auxiliary ships seems to be gradually declining as the buildup continues. Construction of extensivestorage facilities for the air unit at Cam Ranh wouldreater number and variety of types of ordnance to be available, such as iron bombs, aerial mines, and chemical weapons, as well as aniiship missiles. '

Combatants. The current patlern of assigning relatively small combatants to Ihe squadron, such as Grisha and Pctya light frigates and Nanuchka missile combatants, will probably continue. This reduces the need for larger surface combatants to deploy to Cam Ranh and may help to reduce the congestion in Ihe port area, f

General Purpose Submarines. The number ofat Cam Ranh has fluctuated between three and six in recent years, although on average only three submarines were presente expect tbe current level of deployment of three lo continue, both because tbe Soviets apparently view it as adequate and because our projected force estimates of the Soviet Pacific Meet indicate the lack of extraThe mix of aniiship cruise missile submarines and torpedo attack dieael-powered submarines will also probably continue because of iheir availability

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Ship Deployment Areas

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Operating area of Soiot nwrtin'o niferart Buttoned aDroad Foiefln airfield to which Soviet deptcyoonrfao'o* firoWae* By rVara.'Center

Deployment Areas5 Ship-Days of Soviet Naval Korc^Oiuside Home Waters

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