Vysotskiy’s Navy Day Interview

Press coverage of Navy Day (25 July) was replete with interesting stories of plans to revivify Russia’s Kirov-class CGNs and even the Orlan-class wing-in-ground effect vehicle.  There was more talk about moving the Neustrashimyy and Yaroslav Mudryy to the BSF.  Navy CINC Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy’s interview with Ekho Moskvy, however, didn’t get a lot of attention beyond a couple RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS sound bytes.

Discussing development of Russia’s fleet of the future, Vysotskiy emphasized the long lead time required to get it:

“Today it takes 10-12 years to get some kind of definite design.  We understand that we have to go according to some operational-tactical requirements, perhaps even operational-strategic ones in this design, of course.  So, it means the development or construction of a series is approximately another 5-7 years, up to 10 years.  Perhaps more, the service life of the design is 20 to 25 years.  In other words, if today we make a decision on constructing some full-scale fleet, then we have to understand we’ll receive this fleet in about 50 years.  Well, at a minimum, beginning from the main component in 35 years.”

Vysotskiy’s comments on Bulava were also captured by the wire services:

“Well, the question which we, military men bearing certain responsibility for this, of course, well, honestly speaking, we are already tired of answering because there is one cause — a deep, I underscore, failure of primary production technology for such expensive missile systems.”  

“We all very simply understand well:  when we began to arrange the process of our work incorrectly from the beginning, and here everything was not done as it needed to be.  Here, of course, we’ll get big problems in the process of the work itself.  This means, in my view, in the last 2 years, a serious move in the direction of us receiving this system has been made nonetheless.  But we need to understand that getting this system in its current form is not the final step of the work.  But we have a fair chance all the same to complete this work successfully, well, so we’ll say, in the course of the coming year.”

“When a systemic mistake is found, it’s simpler,  In this instance, an entire systemic mistake was found precisely in the lack of a system.  That is, to put it properly, forgive such a tautology or, on the other hand, a paradox.  But, what we’ve got is what we’ve got.”

And Vysotskiy said lots of other interesting things that went unnoticed.

He naturally supported Vice-Admiral Sidenko as Far East OSK Commander, saying it made sense and reflected the country’s maritime interests in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. 

He connected the acquisition of the Mistral to drawing down mobilization resources in favor of permanent readiness.  He said PR units could be put on Mistral and the ship could be a mobile command point for an OSK’s inter-service grouping.  He defended turning abroad by saying it would take Russian yards 1.5 to 3 years to even prepare to make such a ship if they started today.

Vysotskiy wants the BSF to pick up the antipiracy load so the distant fleets don’t have to send their ships.

He discussed Russia’s long-term search and rescue support program, and he emphasized rapid information transfer and international cooperation and combined training, like NATO’s Bold Monarch exercise, as essential ingredients for success.

On the loss of the Kursk ten years ago, Vysotskiy said the accident started with a technical cause — errors in handling a peroxide-fueled torpedo — but there was an accumulation of mistakes, including organizational and command ones, that led to the tragedy.

Russia is working on its organizational and technical problems in SAR, both buying equipment and learning to use it abroad.  Vysotskiy cited an ‘absolute understanding’ on cooperation with foreign partners.

He was evasive on moving the Navy’s headquarters to St. Petersburg, saying a remote command and control point is there, and other steps in this direction are being taken.  But the overall military C2 reform has to be completed this year before he can really answer questions.

Lastly, on foreign bases for the Navy.  He’d like to have them, and there’s movement in this direction, at least compared with the recent past.  The Navy is working with a number of states to arrange for simplified port access for its ships in some strategic places, and it’s almost like having a base.

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