- Russia has been utilizing Yantar since 2015.
- Two bathyscaphes are capable of cutting undersea communications cables.
- Russia has been observed ramping up intelligence operations.
Russia’s spy ship Yantar disappeared from radars near North American shores, after being spotted on November 8. Yantar is a special purpose intelligence collection ship built for the Russian Navy under the pretense of research. The ship has been operated by the Russian Navy’s Main Directorate of Underwater Research since 2015 and is reportedly a spy ship. The ship has a length of 108 metres (354 ft) and a full displacement of 5,736 tons. It’s home base is Severomorsk, where it is attached to the Northern Fleet.
Yantar is equipped with two bathyscaphs (Rus and Consul). Bathyscaphs are able to reach depths of 6,096 meters. A bathyscaphe is a free-diving self-propelled deep-sea submersible, consisting of a crew cabin similar to a bathysphere, but suspended below a float rather than from a surface cable, as in the classic bathysphere design. Russian president Vladimir Putin demonstrated the capabilities of the equipment himself underwater.
This past year Russia has also been working on underwater cables. The costs are exorbitant, but in theory Russia could have 10 small bunkers spread around, each 12 miles apart, a pair of cables coming from each, and one of the bunker cables connected to the launch system of Skif.
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In 2015, Yantar was detected near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia along the east coast of the US. The Submarine Base is the US Atlantic Fleet’s home port for Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons. Hence, it would be plausible to believe the ship was collecting intelligence about submarines and underwater US equipment. Later, Yantar was observed near Canadian shores.
Yantar always seems to appear where there are underground cables. A Syrian telecom provider experienced an internet blackout in 2016. Conveniently, Yantar was in close proximity at the time. The blackout cut off Syrians from social media and internet to avoid the West knowing what is going on in the region.
Also, merchant ships entering the Black Sea have reported the loss of their GPS signal near the Crimea. There is aslo the unusual disappearance of the GEOMAR’s Boknis Eck Observatory and research station (weighing 1,630 lbs) from the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
It is a known fact, admitted by Russian specialists, that Yantar is capable of cutting and destroying underwater cables. Yantar also has the capability of hacking into cable systems, as well as setting up super secret telecommunications lines under water.
During downtime, the ship spends a lot of time near Guantanamo, Cuba, since Russia and Cuba began rebuilding their close relationship.
Russia is ramping up intelligence spy missions under the guise of research. The threat of hybrid warfare from Putin’s Russia is real and they do have the capability to disable underwater cables to cut off signals in various regions.