August 14, 2012 5:00 am
A Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine armed with long-range cruise missiles operated undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks and its travel in strategic U.S. waters was only confirmed after it left the region, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.
It is only the second time since 2009 that a Russian attack submarine has patrolled so close to U.S. shores.
The stealth underwater incursion in the Gulf took place at the same time Russian strategic bombers made incursions into restricted U.S. airspace near Alaska and California in June and July, and highlights a growing military assertiveness by Moscow.
One official said the Akula operated without being detected for a month.
“The Akula was built for one reason and one reason only: To kill U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines and their crews,” said a second U.S. official.
“It’s a very stealthy boat so it can sneak around and avoid detection and hope to get past any protective screen a boomer might have in place,” the official said, referring to the Navy nickname for strategic missile submarines.
Cornyn presses Navy for more info on Russian subs in US coastal waters
A top Senate Republican wants to know how a Russian attack submarine was able to conduct a patrol mission miles off the U.S. coastline without the knowledge of the American military or intelligence officials.
In a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert on Friday, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) demanded "a detailed explanation of the facts" surrounding the incident in which an Akula-class nuclear attack submarine was able to sail into the Gulf of Mexico undetected.
"The submarine patrol ... seems to represent a more aggressive and destabilizing Russian military stance that could pose risks to our national security," Cornyn said in the letter.