Home » Aviation » Foggo: U.S., NATO Naval Forces Pushing Back Against Russian Harassment


Foggo: U.S., NATO Naval Forces Pushing Back Against Russian Harassment

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), right, approaches the Lewis and Clark-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) for a replenishment-at-sea in the Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 6, 2018. Ross, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its seventh patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests Europe and Africa. US Navy photo.

THE PENTAGON – U.S. and NATO ships are focused on conducting freedom of navigation operations in Europe to push back against a Russia that is increasingly harassing commercial shipping and introducing new anti-access weapons into the theater, according to the head of U.S. naval forces in Europe.

Adm. James Foggo said Friday that “the illegal annexation of Crimea has given the Russian Federation an opportunity to establish more anti-access and area-denial capabilities (in the Black Sea). So S-300, S-400 Bastion weapon systems, anti-ship cruise missiles. They’re pouring more into Kaliningrad and the Baltics, and they’re establishing more robust A2/AD capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

While these systems haven’t been used yet to try to keep out U.S. or NATO military forces, the Russians have been aggressive in the Sea of Azov. After building a $3.7-billion bridge over the Kerch Strait that connects Russia to Crimea, the Russians have been seeking to keep Ukrainian ships out of the strait and the Sea of Azov on the other side, even though under international maritime law the Sea of Azov is controlled by both Russia and Ukraine.

“Along with the bridge goes the entry point to the Sea of Azov. If you’re keeping up with this lately, there’s been some irresponsible activity in the Sea of Azov in the last couple months, the Ukrainians are not happy about that. The Russians have delayed shipping, held them at sea, unable to enter port, any port, unable to go to sea. This is costing the Ukraine millions of dollars a year and it’s an unfair practice,” Foggo said Friday morning while speaking at an Atlantic Council event.

The admiral said NATO forces would not look to patrol the Sea of Azov, as they have no claim to it, but he said the anti-access practices there make their patrols of the adjoining Black Sea all the more important. The U.S. Navy spends 125 days at sea there, the maximum allowed under maritime law for a nation that does not border the sea, and NATO forces also spent 125 days patrolling the Black Sea.

“This is reassurance for our friends to the east, and we will continue to operate there because the model, the protocol of trying to block the Sea of Azov, will not stand in the Black Sea, and with our friends – the Bulgarians, the Romanians, Georgians, Ukraines and the Turks – we will continue as NATO to operate” in that location.

“Same with the Mediterranean. It’s getting very, very busy in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Foggo continued.
“We saw recently the buildup of several Russian forces and Russian sailors that came out and operated for a month just around Tartus and Latakia (in Syria) because there was ongoing operations and they felt the necessity to flex their muscles. That did not deter us from operating U.S. warships there. It does not deter us from operating U.S. and NATO warships in the Baltic because there’s a buildup in Kaliningrad. It does not deter us from operating in and around the GIUK Gap up north, and the carrier will prove that during Trident Juncture,” he said, referring to an upcoming NATO exercise in Norway featuring more than 45,000 NATO military personnel.

Two F/A-18 Super Hornets, assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1, launch from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Oct. 3, 2018. Currently operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, Harry S. Truman will continue to foster cooperation with regional allies and partners, strengthen regional stability, and remain vigilant, agile and dynamic. US Navy photo.

Foggo drew a hard line when it came to aggression at sea and attempts to restrict movement in international waters.

“I am confident that we are able to act with the technologically superior capabilities that we have within not just the United States Navy but all of NATO. That’s not to say that we’re not going to get to areas that are going to be contested, and we’re going to have to operate as we do as a sophisticated group of navies in order to deny the adversary the capability or the opportunity to keep us out of areas that are international waters,” he said.
“Because we absolutely and categorically refuse to be restricted in our ability to conduct freedom of navigation operations in international waters.”

Still, the ability for a major formation of NATO forces to operate at sea in a denied environment has not been proven. The upcoming Trident Juncture exercise is large, but its goal is to prove that a large force can move into a NATO ally quickly and stop an adversary from invading. Asked by USNI News if NATO might conduct a similarly large-scale exercise to practice maritime operations in an A2/AD environment, Foggo said. “That’s always a consideration, and we consistently maintain that we won’t be pushed out or restricted in any area of the world which is considered by the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea as international waters. So it would be impolitic of me to tell you we’re planning this particular exercise in this particular time, but it’s something that’s in our DNA because we’re sailors and we’re an island nation in the U.S. – and I think of Europe as a peninsula, if you look at it and you black out all the land and you blue all the water, it’s water around a peninsula. So freedom of navigation is important. We should not allow anybody to restrict our ability to operate. And we don’t pose a threat, that’s the thing. What is the threat? It’s just freedom of navigation, ensuring the sea lines of communication are open. So that’s something that we take very seriously.”

Foggo also mentioned at the event that Russians have remobilized seven of their old bases in the Arctic, which is making NATO allies and partners nervous, though he was quick to say “there’s been no nefarious activity from those seven bases in the Arctic as of yet. But it’s important that we watch them and we make sure there’s proper behavior there.”

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Rachael Foley, left, assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Laricia Kays, assigned to the Fighting Checkmates of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, perform maintenance on aviation ordnance aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Oct. 2, 2018. US Navy photo.

Speaking later Friday to reporters at the Pentagon, Foggo told USNI News that it would be important to have a greater naval presence in Europe than the U.S. has had in the last two or three decades, and that this year’s presence by the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group were part of the effort to boost presence to reassure allies and to keep an eye on Russian activity.

With the Truman CSG now back in the region – spending time in Iceland and the North Sea ahead of Trident Juncture – “that sends a very strong message that the United States will operate anywhere, either unilaterally or in collaboration with our NATO partners and allies. And like I said, nobody in the world can come close to a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in terms of firepower, dwell and endurance,” he said.
“And those guys and gals out on that carrier and the Marines are doing a fantastic job. So we’re keeping the adversaries back on their heels. They don’t know where we’re going next and that’s a good thing. And we’re working more with allies and partners because we have that additional capability. Right now I have – I think, at last count, and my PAO can double check the figures – 495,000 tons of gray-hulled shipping operating in the theater. And that’s great. I love it. Now this is transit presence, so it’s for the period of a deployment. It’s not always that high, but we’re making full use of it.”

  • RunningBear

    I think the non-alliance of the Ukraine is wearing on their national patience. The benefits of supporting non-aggression by the members may be a cause for reconsideration.
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

  • Tomas Kinoshta

    Sea of Azov is not International waters. The Sea of Azov is a body of water within the Russian Federation. Just like before when the Sea of Azov was a body of water within the Soviet Union.

    • Tomas Kinoshta

      only Ukraine and Russia have access to the Sea of Azov. If USA sends a ship into the Sea of Azov, it most likely will be sunk.

      • Graeme Rymill

        The USA and USSR, issued in 1989 a Joint Statement on the Uniform Interpretation of Rules of International Law Governing Innocent Passage, which provided as follows:

        “All ships, including warships, regardless of cargo, armament, or means of propulsion enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea in accordance with
        international law, for which neither prior notification nor authorization is required.”

        • Thom Kinoshta

          Sea of Azov is not International waters.

          • Graeme Rymill

            I draw your attention to the phrase “the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea” – so not international waters.

    • Bubblehead

      International law says like wise.

    • Bill

      The article says this very thing.

  • Sally

    As for Adm. Foggo’s bluster and chest beating about “…nobody in the world can come close to a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in terms of firepower, dwell and endurance”, is true only for a ship to ship encounter. But the Russians have pretty sophisticated super-cavitating Shkval 2 torpedoes, the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal and the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missiles, and the 9K720 Iskander-M missiles, (of course, the Chinese have the DF-21D and DF-26 missiles), all of which are specifically designed to be carrier killers, that the U.S. carriers have never gone up against. Needless to say, despite all the carrier’s firepower, the carrier also makes for a nice big, fat, juicy target too. Russia, alone, has far more of those missiles and torpedoes, than the U.S. Navy has ships and planes, so the carrier could easily be overwhelmed. and it would be the proverbial turkey shoot, if a U.S. carrier got trapped operating in the confines of the Black Sea, or the Sea of Azov, or the Bosporus Strait, going up against any of those weapons. A carrier is a nice “show of force”, but missiles actually rule the sea these days, and they can be shot from any land, sea, or air, mobile launcher. Hope the Admiral thoroughly understands what the odds are of operating a carrier there.

    • DaSaint

      Sure. Many points there. But make no mistake about the fact that any carrier hit, not even sunk by a Russian missile, would envoke a blistering response, both from the carrier’s own airgroup, the accompanying cruisers, destroyers, and nuclear submarines, but also from our SSGNs and long-range bombers. Is that the kind of response the Kremlin would want? Every Russian surface combatant within 1000 nm would be toast, as would their naval bases in the region within 48 hours.

      No, don’t think that an attack on a carrier is a winnable long-range prospect.

      • RDF

        Are you sure? Liberty, pueblo… etc..

        • Secundius

          Three types of “Tomahawk’s” are carried
          1. with WDU-36 warhead with FMU-148 Fuse (Untiary Warhead) using a PBXN-107 Explosive.
          2. with WDU-36 warhead with BBU-47 Fuse (Bomblet Dispersion) using a PBXN-107 Explosive.
          3. W-80, with 200kT Nuclear Warhead.

          Load Out is a Guarded Secret by the US Navy per deployment…

          • RDF

            Not my point. My point was, we have had unprovoked ships lost before without really striking back. That was the Liberty, Pueblo… etc… so dont be so sure we go to WWIII if someone pops a CVN. They could do it ballistic and maybe even get away with denying it even was a missile. think about it.. the trick is to keep the CVN out of harms way until the FA boys clear the table…

          • Secundius

            I wasn’t advocating a Nuclear Response! Just pointing out the Types of “Tomahawks” carried! Fairly curtain that Aircraft Carriers also carry them, though don’t typically advertise or acknowledge there storage…

          • Ken N

            Nuke Tomahawks have been retired.

      • Thom Kinoshta

        yes, there is always 1 sub in an aircraft carrier group with nukes

        • Ken N

          No there isn’t.

          • Secundius

            Yeah, there is! At least 1, but most often 2. Even in the Persian Gulf…

          • Ken N

            I’m talking about nukes. SSN’s do not carry any.

    • RDF

      The only way to get one of our carriers into those bodies of water would be to airlift it.

      • Thom Kinoshta

        Sea of Azov is shallowest sea in the world

        • RDF

          I was unclear. You cant get through the dardanelles. Too big. Montreaux.

    • Bubblehead

      Pretty much every weapon you mentioned has not proven itself as capable of hitting a carrier. Russia is known for their blustering and exaggeration of their capabilities. Those hypersonic missiles have not even been tested against any moving naval targets. Why do you think? If it had the capability to hit a moving target why would the Russians not show and prove to the world its capabilities?

      Russia’s only hope in a war against the US is nuclear. In which the US would retaliate with nuclear. And the world would be gone. Russia can give the US a black eye by delivering the 1st sucker punch. But that is all they got.

      • Sally

        I wouldn’t go believing that stuff about proving Russian missiles not capable of hitting a moving target, if I were you. We got a taste of that last April, when we shot 106 tomahawks at Syrian chemical facilities, only to have 71 of them shot down by older Soviet era S-200 missiles. If the older Russian technology could do that, these newer missiles could probably do much better than you think.

        • Duane

          No they were not shot down by old Soviet SAMs – DOD produced the sat photos correlating the number of impact craters with numbers of missiles fired. The “they were shot down” meme was just silly propaganda a la Baghdad Bob. All of those SAMs were flying high up in the sky, supposedly to shoot down allied cruise missiles … but only dummies think that. All of our cruise missiles fly down low, treetop and terrain skimming, and are not detectable by surface radars until just a few miles away at most, and even if detected and intercepted, the intercept would have taken place at treetop level, not 10,000 feet up in the sky.

          • Sally

            Sorry to say, but those 71 missiles never made it to their targets. Those craters you are referring to are not that of the intended targets, more than likely, explosions of the missiles impacts with the ground, after they were shot down. Also, LACM cruise missiles, including the tomahawks, arch into a high terminal trajectory before diving into the target. They are detectable by radar when they reach that point in their trajectory.

          • Bubblehead

            That isn’t true Duane. We know as a fact the S200 shot down that Russian AEW plane. And we know the S200 shot down the Civilian airliner over Ukraine. So they are capable of shooting something down. Just not fighters.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          That is totally false. RT even just did a documentary on the Tor SAM system which THEIR OWN REPORTER admitted that the Tomahawk strikes were nearly 100% successful, and the only ones that weren’t were defective missiles (because there is always , always, a small % of missiles that will fail at some point in the sequence, from launch to target, it’s the nature of the weapon system.) RUSSIAN TV actually admitted how effective the Tomahawk strike was. They of course made full mention of how Syria didn’t have the type of SAM assets that Russia could have deployed but hadn’t yet, but if RT is admitting the Tomahawk strike was successful, you can be pretty sure those “only 71 claims” are total BS. It seems like you’re cutting and pasting random info on here, from the goold-old “Supercavitating Torpedo” to the Dong Feng and Iskander etc. I don’t think anyone here is impressed.

          • Sally

            It’s totally false? Its reality, so stop denying it. And if RT made such a report, why aren’t you sharing the link with us? Besides, who really cares if you are impressed or not. That is totally irrelevant. You guys haven’t been out to sea much lately, or up to speed on military developments to know what is going on, or what you are talking about.

          • Ser Arthur Dayne

            Are you bored today or mentally ill? Because you sound like a combination of both.

          • Thom Kinoshta

            you sound like a jerk

          • muzzleloader

            The only reality is the one you are fabricating in your own mind. We haven’t been to sea much lately? LOL you really ought to read the weekly USNI news fleet tracker and you could read for yourself just how out to sea the USN is.
            Furthermore our fleet doesn’t need a fleet tug escort in case of breakdowns like yours does.
            The rubbish you are spouting about 71 failed Tomahawks is propaganda that you know is BS.
            By the way “Sally” we have your number and you are a Russian troll, Tovarish.

          • Thom Kinoshta

            wrong

          • Ser Arthur Dayne

            right.

      • Thom Kinoshta

        you more than likely are wrong. With all the missiles, it seems that an aircraft carrier cannot defend itself from 100 maybe 1000 missiles.

    • Duane

      Supercavitating torpedoes are a hoax designed to fool dumb civilians on the internet. They do not and cannot work.

    • Bill

      No carrier is going into the Black Sea, much less Sea of Azov. Where do you get this stuff?

      • Sally

        That is what this article implied, by citing Admiral Foggo. It would be suicide anyway, since anything coming from, or going to, the Black Sea has to pass through the Bosporus Straits, that the Russians could easily track from there. But, with people heading up the navy, like Admiral Foggo, who appears to be overly confident and enamoured with technology, yet not very familiar with the physical and operational limitations of the Black Sea region, much less to say, very well informed of how the Russians have built their defenses in the area since, is going to get a bunch of U.S. sailors killed, if hostilities break out.

        • Bill

          Aircraft carriers (Capitol ships) of non-Black Sea nations are prohibited by treaty from passing through the Bosporus.

          • Sally

            Very true in what you say. And that alone raises a serious question of what in the world was Admiral Foggo thinking about, when he mentioned anything about carriers.

    • Secundius

      The “Lotus Effect”! US Researchers have found away the reproduce the enzyme produced by Plants that makes Water Bead Up on Leaves and just Whisk Away. Which can allow a Submarine and/or Ship to move through Water without “Supercavitation”…

  • Dan George Danescu Ciocodeica

    Is the communist regime that is the main enemy here in the east! Peopke are so willing to get it out of their lives ! We cannot even do minor things in appreciation of NATO allies and freedom , example our media is controlled by politichal pro communists and u can only imagine their comments, even if they are “pro NATO” later one they change the meanning with security militia speaking directly over it, hard to explain, “crazy” usually acusation for those who does not obey! Flags or languages most of the time targeted by communist militia , only communist propaganda allowed, deite false NATO approval!

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    .. nice “global warming” that I believe is actually a REAL THING. “Cold War” is warm enough to finally qualify to become a hot one