Russian Spy Ship Disappearance from US Radar – Is Russia Planning Global Blackout?

  • 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.


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.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

9 thoughts to “Russian Spy Ship Disappearance from US Radar – Is Russia Planning Global Blackout?”

  1. For a professional in finance, insurance, and management litigation you Christina demonstrated an unusual interest in matters of deep ocean engineering, defense, and cable communications. These are very specialized technical fields, often misinterpreted by the media, intentionally in case of Russian official media; such as Pravda, Sputnik or RT. They mislead the international and the domestic audience to intimidate or to impress the audience.
    It is correct that the Russian Special Operations Vessel YANTAR SAR (operated by the Russian Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research Military Unit 40056) returned back this year to the Caribbean Venezuelan offshore, where she is currently working for a full month tapping fiber-optic communication cables (American and PanAmerican) located therein deep water. YANTAR spent September of 2015 doing the same job in the same location. You also mentioned SKIF. These are ocean floor based missile launching platforms (tested from 2013-14), they have been announced as operational last year. They could be easily installed in any of those ocean floor locations with the help of YANTAR which is well equipped for the job. Being located at the closer distance these missile launching platforms have been equipped with middle-range cruise missiles and no supersonics. They are guided remotely from the currently operating Russian SEGINT – GLONASS stations in Cuba and in Venezuela.

  2. Thank you for a detailed reply, my interests are in quantum physics and engineering, outside of my previous professional career. Hence, my interests, Russia is a dangerous country under Putin and I wouldn’t put anything past him to achieve his ambitions,. You are correct about RT, it is meant to be a propaganda machine for Russia and a lot of times does show grandiosity to the audience. At the same time, I don’t think Putin ever plays by the rules. Also Soviet Union and now Russia has one of the best physicists and engineers In the defense field, who can create such things. Many did leave to US and the west after soviet collapse but the new generation is staying and creating such equipment. By the way impressive background in your BIO.

    1. You are very welcome. I deduct that you are also a serious reader and share with you your interests. During its short but belligerent history, Russia never played by the rules. The situation today, comparing with the Soviet period, is different for those better educated, smart Russians who chose freedom. Travel on the personal initiative in Soviet times was absolutely prohibited to Soviet citizens anywhere else in the world, but today they can vote with their own feet by immigrating to other countries. It is a difficult but possible sacrifice. The technologies Russian media is bragging about: those for the work in deep water, satellite communications for the military use, remote missile guidance – all are not new, except some (like SKIF) are prohibited for use by the international treaties, to which Russia is a signatory. This does not prevent Russia from lying about its use. Other technologies have been commercially available for the last 25 years. They are protected by the patents, but Russians and Chinese ignore the patent protection rules. I completely agree with you that the Russian state acting like the mafia is very dangerous. Especially their operational capability to control world communications and threaten the USA with low flying nuclear head cruise missiles within the short and middle-range distance. The American High Energy Laser capable to protect from such cruise missiles is expected to become available only in 2024.
      Meanwhile, if you are interested in this field read my memoir “The Sea is Only Knee Deep” available in Amazon

      1. Thank you, you are very interesting and I will check out the book as well. Pretty cool you wrote one.

        I didn’t see the soviet union my parents did. My mother was in physmat and then chose applied physics during soviet days but left for Canada but never stayed in her field in Canada. I heard about soviet era and I have been fascinated with the older technology and yes even though travel is free, Russia is become less free every day. Putin pulling out from certain treaties, SMART is still in Question etc. I agree fro now it Is controlled, but scary what will happen in the future. One thing is for certain former Soviet Union universities, do produce one of the top talent in the field.

  3. Thanks for your interest, Christina. Yes, you are correct: Russia is extremely dangerous. As I mentioned in my previous commentaries, nobody in the world, including the USA, has yet an operational anti-cruise missile protection technology. Especially if the launching platform is hidden in the close or middle range of the ocean bottom. It is scary.
    Good for your mother to decide for freedom in Canada. I must share with you and your mother the statement of Yegor Zhukov, the Russian university student who recently made it in Moscow court and it has been translated here to English by Masha Gessen.

    1. My apologies. This is embarrassingly off topic. I simply searched Google for Paulina Zelitsky within the last six months. Maybe 10 years ago I hosted articles about her and her oceanographic research and possibly locating buildings 1/2 mile down off the coast of Cuba. I was researching what came of that- the most recent events or conclusions. I apologize if I’ve subtracted from this very serious discussion. God bless


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