CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Jan 22, ’22] Episode 32…A Look at the Russian Naval Fighting Force


Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world.
This Week…the world is watching as Russia continues its military buildup and tough talk over Ukraine. Notwithstanding the focus on diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict, what naval and maritime power can Russia mobilize for a Black Sea war? We’ll talk with an experienced observer of Russian military and diplomatic activities, Nicholas J. Myers.

In this Week’s Squawk Chris Servello discusses the false choice of presence vs. readiness.

Please send us feedback by DM’ing @CavasShips or @CSSProvision or you can email or


This Week’s Naval Round Up:

US Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on January 21 announced the impending kickoff of Neptune Strike 2022, a major NATO-led naval exercise that will run from January through February 4. The US carrier Harry S. TRUMAN and her strike group will take part, operating in the Mediterranean Sea under NATO command. Despite the close proximity of the exercise to the Black Sea and its timing, Kirby noted that planning for the exercise began in late 2020, and that it scenarios are, quote, not designed against the kinds of scenarios we might see with Ukraine.

Earlier, on January 20, the French Navy announced its Mission Clemenceau 2022 carrier task group will be operating in the Mediterranean in early February alongside the TRUMAN and the Italian carrier CAVOUR. As reported by the Naval News website, the French will also send a frigate and some fighters into the Black Sea. While not naming a specific operating area, it seems the bulk of the exercises will take place in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Meanwhile, a group of six Russian amphibious ships left Baltiysk on January 15, apparently en route to the Black Sea. The ships, from the Russian Navy’s Baltic and Northern fleets, were shadowed by NATO ships and aircraft as they passed southbound through the English Channel on January 19. The group consists of five Ropucha-class landing ships and one larger ship, the PYOTR MORGUNOV. Officially, the Russian said the ships are headed for joint exercises in the Mediterranean Sea.

And on January 20 the Russian Defense Ministry announced that large-scale naval exercises will take place in January and February in, quote, “all zones of responsibility.” According to the Russian news agency TASS more than 140 combat and supply ships, over 60 aircraft and more than 10,000 military personnel will take part. One of the exercises, dubbed CHIRU-2022, began January 18 in the Gulf of Oman, where a Russian task group centered on the cruiser VARYAG and destroyer ADMIRAL TRIBUTS joined with Chinese warships of the 39th Escort Force and Iranian units for four days of maneuvers. The Russian Group deployed from Vladivostok in late December and visited India before heading for Iran.

The Chinese Navy’s 40th Escort Force left Zhanjiang, China on January 15 for an anti-piracy deployment in the Gulf of Aden. The task group has the standard composition of a Type 052D destroyer, a Type 054A frigate and a supply ship, with Chinese special forces embarked. China has maintained a continuous series of similar anti-piracy deployments since 2008.

And on January 20 the US destroyer BENFOLD carried out a Freedom of Navigation, or FONOP passage in international waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea – the first such passage since September 8, a notably long gap. China immediately protested, saying the US ship trespassed into Chinese territorial waters without permission. In a statement, the US Navy flatly rejected the Chinese claims, calling them excessive. That the US Navy is now announcing these passages – and quickly putting up rebuttals to Chinese protests – is a definite change from past practices, where the US would carry out such maneuvers but not comment on them, leaving China to provide its own characterizations.

SQUAWK BOX Servello:

A quick run down of this week’s headlines at the top of the show once again demonstrates how ridiculous the false comparison between presence and readiness remains.

If policymakers and strategists believe the United States can compete with Russia and China, deter North Korean and Iranian aggression and reassure a growing ally and partner base without both a present and ready Navy—then they aren’t serious and should consider a new line of work. 

Weeks like this demand a Navy that can both operate forward and quickly move and surge forces to respond to crises and calls for help. 

This only happens if you build, maintain and modernize your Navy with both presence and readiness in mind. Trying to pay for one by cutting the other is a recipe for disaster. 

We’ve said many times before…you get the Navy you pay for…but you also get the Navy you make the argument for…this week is the perfect time to correct skeptics and enlighten the uninformed as to why America needs a forward and operationally capable naval force.

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