January 21, 2016

The Russian Navy and Indian Navy held a joint exercise in December, and nobody told you.

Naval exercises happen between friendly nations routinely to ensure integration between navies and to learn from one another.  These naval exercises have taken place between the Russian and Indian navies since 2003; usually a couple times a year.  I was unaware that India was a huge customer of Russian weaponry until recently, and they have been for fifty years!  I mentioned the Indra Navy 2015 (December 2015) exercises previously a couple of times, partially because it is a very public show of cooperation that isn't being covered at all by the Western media.  I can find mention of the exercises in the Russian, Indian, and (strangely?) Polish media - so it wasn't some sort of secret operation the Western media wouldn't have known about... but I think it likely poses problems for messaging.  While the US-narrative states Russia is an adversary of the West, India is allied with the West; so how can there be friendly cooperation between the two? The friendship between Russia and India has even gone as far as Russia helping miniaturize a nuclear reactor for the latest Indian submarine project, jointly developing a new 533mm torpedo, and Russian shipyards refurbishing India's Kilo submarine fleet.  I also find this interesting because of the timing of the new anti-submarine warfare destroyer, the INS Kadmatt (commissioned January 7th, quite soon after the exercises).  No mention was made about this new ASW destroyer taking part in the exercises, but I can't imagine it wasn't discussed at some point.

Here is the timeline of events regarding the ships that made up the flotilla as I understand them:

Early October 2015
The Russian Navy Varyag and Bystryy restocked ammunition at Pavlovsk Bay (Павловск), and proceeded to Vladivostok (Golden Horn Bay, I believe)

The Bing Map below shows Pavlovsk Bay, a former Soviet submarine base, with a derelict underground submarine shelter which was scrapped after the START I treaty; pictures here and here - There is nothing like it in Canada or the United States.

November 2nd 2015
All four ships in the flotilla depart Vladivostok with much fanfare.
Sovremenny-Class Destroyer Bystryy (Быстрый) №715 leaving Vladivostok
Photo Credit: Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy (here)

November 4th 2015
Japanese Defence Forces photograph the flotilla passing through the Tsushima Strait.

Slava-Class Missile Cruiser Varyag (Варяг) №011
Photo Credit: Japanese Ministry of Defense
November 4th 2015 / Tsushima Strait

Sovremenny-Class Destroyer Bystryy (Быстрый) №715
Photo Credit: Japanese Ministry of Defense
November 4th 2015 / Tsushima Strait

Ingul-Class Salvage Tug Alatau (Алатау) №02672
Photo Credit: Japanese Ministry of DefenseNovember 4th 2015 / Tsushima Strait

Boris Chilikin-Class Fleet Oiler Boris Butoma (Борис Бутома) №621
Photo Credit: Japanese Ministry of Defense
November 4th 2015 / Tsushima Strait
December 7th - 12th 2015
"Indra Navy 2015" exercises held in the Bay of Bengal, staging from the port of Vishakhapatnam, India.

Participating ships (as reported by the Indian and Russian media)

Russian Navy:
  • Slava-Class Missile Cruiser Varyag (Варяг) №011
  • Sovremenny-Class Destroyer Bystryy (Быстрый) №715
  • Ingul-Class Salvage Tug Alatau (Алатау) №02672
  • Boris Chilikin-Class Fleet Oiler Boris Butoma (Борис Бутома) №621
Indian Navy:
  • Shivalik class stealth multi-role frigate INS Sahyadri (F49)
  • Rajput-class destroyer INS Ranvir (D54)
  • Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Shakti (A57)
  • Sindhughosh-class diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhuvir (S58)
After these exercises the RFS Varyag headed to the Mediterranean to replace the Moskva off the coast of Syria.

December 24th - 29th 2015
The RFS Varyag left the Omani port of Salalah, where it was reportedly replenishing food and water before heading to the Suez.

Slava-Class Missile Cruiser Varyag (Варяг) №011
Photo Credit: Sputnik / ildus Gilyazutdinov
Date and Location Unknown
~December 29th, 2015
Bystryy, Alatau and Boris Butoma arrive in Jakara's Tanjung Priok Harbor and hold "joint maneuvering and communication exercises".  Indonesia is on the way back from India, so goodwill stops along the route make perfect sense.

~January 4th 2016
The RFS Varyag makes a 12 hour transit of the Suez Canal on it's way to the Mediterranean to relieve the Black Sea Fleet Flagship the Moskva off the coast of Syria.

~January 6th, 2016
Bystryy, Alatau and Boris Butoma arrive in the port of Tien Sa, in Da Nang, Vietnam for another goodwill stop, visiting local attractions, dignitaries, and laying a wreath at the memorial to heroic martyrs.  Let's not forget that Russia supplies Vietnam with all their Diesel-Electric submarines, one of which is currently being transported to Vietnam by ship.  Could this trip have also served as a way to deliver munitions from Vladivostok to Da Nang for the new submarine? Reportedly they left on January 9th headed for Shanghai.

~January 17th, 2016
Bystryy, Alatau and Boris Butoma were reported to be expected in Shanghai, China on January 17th, but I haven't seen any press or confirmation of that.  Shanghai seems to be a favourite stop on the way to Vladivostok by other flotillas as well, but if not to refuel or restock, I'm not sure why.

Overall this paints a different picture than Russia the isolated evil empire, as it is portrayed in the Western media.  It seems Russia has normal friendly relations with several states which aren't considered enemies of the West.

Video of their stop in Da Nang, Vietnam

Video from their visit to Jakarta, Indonesia


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