August 20, 2015

Following the Russian Navy Mod Altay class tankers

Image Credit: Ian Sturton - Mod Altay Class Tanker

Kola - Przemek / Baltiysk, Kaliningrad 2006

Sometime last year I became interested in the Russian Naval Auxiliary ship Kola. ( Likely in part due to Tom in Lincolnshire, UK SoundCloud / Twitter ) The Kola is an oiler; a floating gas station for the Russian Navy. As I don't have my own spy satellite constellation (YET!), and the Russian Navy uses very loose terms for their deployment areas, I'm keeping an eye on a few ships of interest (like the Kola) to see where they operate, as they indicate larger operations. An oiler... oils! Well, more accurately, it ships marine diesel to ships at sea, and does alongside replenishment. If there's an oiler, there's at least one bigger boat around that's thirsty. 

Most recently the Kola returned from a Mediterranean deployment with the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet Neustrashimyy-class (Неустрашимый) frigate RFS Yaroslav Mudry (СКР Ярослав Мудрый). The Yaroslav Mudry is the most modern Russian Navy Frigate in the fleet, being commissioned in 2009.

There were six oilers of the same class as the Kola, spread out across the fleet.  I'm uncertain which of those ships are still operating with the Russian Navy or have been decommissioned.  Specifications for the Mod Altay class tankers are as follows:

Mod Altay class (Project 160) (AOL)
Built between 1967-72 by Rauma-Repola, Finland
Displacement - full load: 7366 tonnes (7249.7 (uk) t) (8119.6 t short)) (7366000 kg)
Length - overall: 106.2 m (348.4 ft)
Beam - overall: 15.5 m (50.9 ft)
Kola - apachio / Baltiysk, Kaliningrad 2006.12.23

Draught - hull: 6.7 m (22.0 ft)
Top speed: 14 kt (25.9 km/h) (16.1 mph)
Range: 8600 n miles (15927.2 km) (9896.7 miles) at 12 kt (22.2 km/h) (13.8 mph)
crew: 60
Cargo capacity: 4,400 tons oil fuel; 200 m3 solids
Machinery: 1 Burmeister & Wain BM550VTBN110 diesel; 3,200 hp(m) (2.35 MW); 1 shaft

Clarksville Base / Site Charlie (Fort Campbell)

I'd written this up last year and noticed I hadn't published it as it wasn't complete, but I should put it out there in case someone else finds the partial information helpful.

Built in 1949, Site Charlie was a National Stockpile Site (NSS) with all the above ground supporting buildings for that mission.  Building types are my best guesses; I couldn't identify them all. I don't know where the portal is to building 7740, but need to re-review the PDF below for additional hints and labels for the buildings.

[ Work in Progress ]

I stumbled upon this document that has a spectacular diagram of building 7740

August 05, 2015

Fotiy Krylov (Фотий Крылов) docks in Corinto, with a friend?

Marshal Gelovani
Photo Credit: Savitskiy Igor /
Taken November 24, 2014 in Vladivostok
Following up on my last post about this interesting tug, the Fotiy Krylov (IMO 8613346 / MMSI 273441150) showed up at 2015-08-05 00:38Z at the Port of Corinto, Nicaragua.

The Port of Corinto is classified as a small port in the Northern Pacific, and has considerable warehousing and rail links to move cargo to/from the port.

So what?

Well, the Fotiy Krylov doesn't usually travel alone, but as a tug she usually has her AIS beacon on, unlike spy-ships or other ships of war.  So, who's she travelling with this time?

Rumour has it she's with the Project 862/II Marshal Gelovani (NATO: Yug Class) Hydrographic survey vessel. I can't find an IMO or MMSI for her, just a reference to 906O.  I also found reference that she is an AGE: General Purpose Experimental Ship (AGE = Auxiliary General Experimental).  I wonder if she's experimenting with something, and what they're up to?

The only thing I know that's going on in Nicaragua is the new canal which is being bankrolled by the Chinese, which is going to erode the American-controlled Panama canal's monopoly.  Just today they announced potential changes to the Pacific entry of the canal.  Are the Russians helping with oceanographic surveying?  Are they experimenting with new sonar?  Nicaragua is an ally of Russia, so any number of other projects could be going on, or they could have just stopped for some fuel and cigars.  I really don't know.

Title: Marshal Gelovani
Russian Navy Auxiliary
Project 862/II  |  NATO: Yug Class
Launched: 11.02.1983
Commissioned: 29.07.1983
Serving: Pacific Fleet / Vladivostok, Russia
Concept / Program (multiple sources have the ship listed differently):
  AGE: General Purpose Experimental Ship (AGE = Auxiliary General Experimental)
  General-purpose research ship
  Ekspeditsionnoye Okeanograficheskoye Sudno (EOS); Expeditionary Oceanographc Vessel
  Hydrographic survey vessel
Displacement: 1,892 tons / 2,490 tons (full)
Dimensions: 82.5 x 13.5 x 3.97 meters/270.6 x 44.3 x 13 feet
Propulsion: 2 Sulzer diesels, 2 shafts, 3,600 bhp, 15.6 knots
Crew: 46 civilian + 20 mission crew + 4 passengers/transients
Built: Poland, Stocznia Polnocna, Gdansk
  [information compiled from multiple sources]

Fotiy Krylov's last recorded position:

Corinto, Nicaragua:

August 02, 2015

USAF F-15E Strike Eagles hanging out in Gander, Newfoundland?

Gander Airport - F-15
Credit: "No Name D" / Flickr - July 13th, 2015

I'm not sure what the story is here, so I'm putting it out on the Internet to see if someone can fill in the blanks.  It seems on June 4th 2015 three USAF McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles from RAF Lakenheath landed at Gander International Airport (CYQX) with a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.

Why is this interesting?

Several reasons.

At the time there was a rumour of an in-flight emergency, but I can't find any details.
There is also a rumour they were on their way to Iraq and/or the Azores (on their way to Iraq I guess?), but they're still there, as of last week.

The tail numbers of the planes are 98-0134, 91-0605 and 91-0332.
FlightAware Photo
Photo Courtesy of - Rick Stead

Each of these planes are usually at RAF Lakenheath in the UK, as shown by the LN on their tail. (ref )

However, the tail also usually has a red or blue stripe along the top indicating their squadron, and the squadron number was painted on the tail as early as last year (ref: ) What does the lack of squadron number mean?  Are these being decommissioned, or redistributed to another base?
Either way, why keep the LN while in transit..?

Could this be related to the USAF re-org from the beginning of January 2015? (ref: )

More pictures here:

...and HD video!

...and big thank you to Marcus and Todd for sending me photos when they were in Gander recently :)