U.S. deploys warships as Russian fleet makes close pass to Florida in approach to Cuba


The U.S. Navy has deployed warships and aircraft to track a Russian naval flotilla after the Russian vessels sailed less than 30 miles off South Florida’s coast on Tuesday, U.S. officials told McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

Last week, Moscow sent three ships and a nuclear-powered submarine to the Caribbean for what U.S. officials say will be a set of extensive military air and naval exercises — the first of their kind in at least five years.

The drills began on Tuesday in the Atlantic, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, with its hypersonic-capable frigate and nuclear-capable submarine simulating a strike on a group of enemy ships. It is unclear whether the frigate is armed with hypersonic missiles, but the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that none of the Russian vessels are carrying nuclear weapons.

NORFOLK (May 25, 2023) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) returns to Naval Station Norfolk following a nine-month deployment with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10.NORFOLK (May 25, 2023) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) returns to Naval Station Norfolk following a nine-month deployment with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10.

NORFOLK (May 25, 2023) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) returns to Naval Station Norfolk following a nine-month deployment with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10.

While the Biden administration has said it is not concerned by the Russian activity, it has nevertheless authorized the deployment of three powerful destroyers and a submarine reconnaissance aircraft to the region, a U.S. Northern Command official told McClatchy and the Herald on Tuesday.

“In accordance with standard procedures, we’ve been actively monitoring the Russian ships as they transit the Atlantic Ocean within international waters,” the NORTHCOM official said. “Air and maritime assets under U.S. Northern Command have conducted operations to ensure the defense of the United States and Canada. Russia’s deployments are part of routine naval activity which pose no direct threat or concern to the United States.”

The U.S. deployment includes three guided-missile destroyers — the USS Truxtun, USS Donald Cook and USS Delbert D. Black — as well as a Coast Guard cutter, the Stone, and a Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.

Last week, confirming Russia’s deployment plans, a senior administration official said the U.S. Navy would adopt “whatever the necessary posture is to track and to monitor” their activity as the exercises unfold.

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov is on its way to Cuba. Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS/Sipa USAThe Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov is on its way to Cuba. Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS/Sipa USA

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov is on its way to Cuba. Russian Defence Ministry Press Office/TASS/Sipa USA

An additional port call by the Russian ships is possible in Venezuela, multiple officials said. The Biden administration anticipates the exercises will culminate in worldwide naval exercises by Russia that will include deployments from the Caribbean to the South Pacific.

The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces said last week that the Russian missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, the nuclear submarine Kazan, the oil tanker Pashin and the salvage tug Nikolai Chiker will arrive on June 12 and stay for a week.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook. Credit: United States NavyGuided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook. Credit: United States Navy

Guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook. Credit: United States Navy

Users of the website marinetraffic.com have been tracking the position of the U.S. and Russian ships in recent days. According to the website, the Russian sea rescue tug Nikolay Chiker was positioned 26 nautical miles from Key Largo on Tuesday morning.

U.S. officials acknowledged the close call of the Russian ships, while emphasizing they have remained in international waters.

“We have been monitoring the ships’ paths closely,” a U.S. official said Tuesday. “At no point have the ships or submarine posed a direct threat to the United States.”

Global deployments

The Port of Havana will be particularly crowded this week.

On top of the Russian warships and the nuclear-powered submarine expected to arrive on Wednesday, HMCS Margaret Brooke, a patrol vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy, will arrive Friday and stay until the 17, when the Russian ships are expected to leave.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said the ship’s visit highlights the “50th anniversary of cooperation ties” with Canada and the “bilateral collaboration for the maintenance of peace in our region.” It did not mention the simultaneous presence of Russian navy assets at the port.

A Venezuelan training ship, the AB Simón Bolívar, will also visit Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city, between June 15 and 19.

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stone. Credit: United States Coast GuardU.S. Coast Guard cutter Stone. Credit: United States Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Stone. Credit: United States Coast Guard



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