Posted on June 25, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis

AIS shows Russian-American staring contest in the Caribbean Sea.

On June 23, one of Russia’s newest frigates, the “Admiral Gorshkov,” and the tugs “Elbrus” and “Nikolay Chiker” entered the Gulf of Mexico on route to Havana (Cuba). At least one U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the USS Jason Dunham, which operates out of Jacksonville (Florida state), closely monitored the Russian naval party. Using VesselFinder, an Automatic Identification System (AIS) aggregator, we were able to monitor both sides, as they engaged in a “staring contest.” The USS Jason Dunham positioned roughly 30 nautical miles north of the Elbrus, the only ship of the Russian detachment that sailed with its AIS on. Military vessels usually operate with their transponder off.

Russia-US Staring Contest in the Caribbean

However, we know from the Admiral Gorshkov’s previous and first long-range deployment through the Red Sea (June 20, 2018) that the tugs Elbrus and Nikolay Chiker are its logistical support vessels. As the tugs are sometimes operating with AIS, we were able to identify the incognito “big fish” by tracking their companions. Admiral Gorshkov entered the port of Havana yesterday evening.

Russian-US Staring Contest in the Caribbean

Likely, the Navy’s airborne sensors are also pointed towards the Cuban anchorage. The USS Jason Dunham’s Seahawk helicopter, an E-3 Orion or the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon maritime security aircraft could keep a watchful eye on the Russian detachment, as it undergoes its Caribbean deployment.  


Situation Report Written by Intelligence Officer & ARX Maritime Correspondent, I. Vlad Sutea

Posted in Operations , US Navy , Russian Navy , North America

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