Navy detects Russian sub off U.S. East Coast
The moorages of the main Russian Northern Navy Fleet's base in the town of Severomorsk. The Sierra-2 class sub is believed to be part of the fleet.
November 6th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Navy detects Russian sub off U.S. East Coast

By Mike Mount

The U.S. Navy detected and tracked a Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine less than 300 miles from the southern U.S. East Coast last month, according to U.S. defense officials.

While the submarine did not enter U.S. territorial waters or follow any U.S. Navy ships, its arrival came while a Navy carrier strike group was training off Florida, according to defense officials who could not speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The move by the Russians to put the ship close to the U.S. demonstrates its desire to ramp up deep-water patrolling by its submarine fleet - something the Russian government has said it would do, officials said.

The newer Sierra-2 submarine is thought to be part of the Russian Northern Fleet, and this is the first time this class of sub has been detected this close to the U.S., the officials said.

The sub was discovered about 275 miles off the southern East Coast in international waters about two weeks ago and has been followed by the Navy since, defense officials said. Officials said the sub did not come close to the major U.S. Navy submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, home to attack and ballistic missile submarines.

"Things worked the way they were supposed to," according to one of the officials when referencing how the Navy discovered the submarine.

While the officials would not disclose how the submarine was detected, the Navy has sensors in the air and water to detect and track such vessels.

The submarine has since turned back, and on Tuesday, it was about 600 miles off the U.S. coast heading eastward toward Europe, according to Navy officials.

It is not clear what the submarine was doing this close to the U.S., but officials say they assume it was conducting anti-submarine exercises, a return to a Cold War activity.

"They are doing what the U.S. does, patrolling and conducting exercises," one of the officials told Security Clearance.

The detection of the sub was first reported in the Washington Free Beacon.

The Sierra-2 is similar to the U.S. Los Angeles-class attack submarine and does not carry ballistic missiles - only torpedoes and other anti-submarine weapons.

The last time a Russian sub was detected close to the United States was in 2009, according to defense officials.

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Filed under: Russia
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  22. Brian

    this has ben going on since at least the eighties. We were routinely followed out to the dive point by Russian "fishing trawlers" (agi ships) and we were swept clear by our own boats after dive. Even then, we tracked a few close enough to the US. Seems old Putin is just reverting to the Cold War days of old but, just like then, I suspect we have this covered. The media needs to stop feeding the frenzy.

    October 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Reply
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  28. Michael

    The picture isn't even a Sierra-II, Its a Yankee class which can carry SLBMs.

    December 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Reply
  29. Zach

    Why are russian subs seen in the gulf ?? That's less than 8 miles from shore . Hello wakeup call ,unless it was a secret american sub (not)

    October 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  30. John

    The US navy detects??? none of our us technology could track it or pick it up!!! the only way they found out it was there is when it surfaced!

    July 30, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Reply
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  36. Rodger Rabbit

    If there is a war ....the fast way would be... My guess ... park 30 subs just off the east coast 30 off the west coast all 5 minutes away. CIA, Pentagon gone in a double strike just to be sure. Then congress 4 times just to be sure. and shazam command and control is gone. then all industrial complexes just to be sure 2 times just to be sure. And boy are they laughing at us destorying ourselves from the inside. Too Bad Soo Sad. You reap what you sow.

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  40. jcluma

    So a Russian sub 300 miles from the US is considered newsworthy? Based on the headline I was expecting it to be 10 to 20 miles out... First, I'm sure we have many subs within the same distance of Russia's coasts. Second, 300 miles of water is not exactly "close." And that's the same distance as L.A. to Monterey, or Detroit to Chicago. A dumb article.

    December 5, 2012 at 2:08 am | Reply
  41. Frustrated taxpayer

    Why did this even make the news ? Typical crappy media clamoring for headlines. Next up in the headlines, someone looses a dog.

    December 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  42. valid name

    I can't imagine why all of you do NOT know....
    It was the SOVIET ballots for our elections!
    Putin delivered them to Obama.

    November 27, 2012 at 6:15 am | Reply
  43. Skippertom

    Russia is a degenerate economy. No new submarine has been built in Russia since the launching of the Kursk. Putin only promenades his fast attack submarine and TU-95 bombers to appear as a superpower. Sited sub, sank same...

    November 27, 2012 at 2:24 am | Reply
  44. Don

    The Sub was close to us because we let it come that close, I'm sure it was tracked from it's launch. However, Russia needs to focus on it's economy and way of life because it is not that good. LOL.

    November 26, 2012 at 2:15 am | Reply
    • Gianni

      As an impartial observer I'd say Russia is wise to prepare for war as the only way to keep peace with the US. I surely would do that.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  45. ourflag

    good sure there have never been any other subs off our coast in the past.......

    November 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • valid name

      read the last sentence in the article

      November 27, 2012 at 6:09 am | Reply
  46. alan fischer

    Russia would not allow 35,000,000 illegals to invade Russia–and have to feed them

    November 21, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • okgoto

      You're statement is not taking into account that there aren't 35,000,000 people in the world that would even WANT to get into Russia, let alone illegally. Child please.

      November 28, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
  47. northerstar

    It seems like Russia wants to be something it is no longer – a world power. They have more important things to do than put a sub off our coast. Russia could not imagine itself a viable enemy against the US.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • Martina

      Your ignorance is truly amazing. I guess you are not aware of the fact that the US has more economic problems than Russia does at this time. Stick your world power ideas you know where.

      December 4, 2012 at 3:39 am | Reply
  48. Far smarter than you

    Did they dive into the caverns after they passed Thor's twins?

    November 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
    • stardove07

      LOL... I wouldn't know... my morse code is a little rusty.

      November 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • GW

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      November 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  49. jake

    i agree with the russians. if i had a fleet of subs i would watch the only country who starts civil wars, carpet bomb other people, destroys homes, schools, police stations, communitys, even whole countries.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Reply
    • atropine101

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      November 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
    • northerstar

      Right: the Soviet Union was such a model of civilization. Stalin killed more of his own population than the total number of people who died during WWII. While the allies returned countries to their original sovernty after WWII; Russia kept the countries under soviet occupation. Yup you got it right. Suggest you go back to your home planet.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        agree with you the fact that no country or even nobody or even more nothing is perfect. however, if those so called smaller or less powerful countries would have no choice but to go under an umbrella of super powered nations (in this case i put the U.S, Russia and China), the U.S should have been by far the first choice albeit its policies sometimes is confusing because its national interests should be first priority (it goes for every country anyway)

        November 22, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • WAJ

      Jake. No country is prefect. But to compare atrocities committed by the US against those of Russia vis a vis Soviet Union. That is one ruthless country. How does a government bureaucrat llike Putin go from a civil salary to being worth tens of billions in less than 20 years. It's impossible to do that even here in the center of capitalism.

      Read some history son. There have been worse superpowers in history that the US...much worse

      November 21, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
      • Pete

        agree with you the fact that no country or even nobody or even more nothing is perfect. however, if those so called smaller or less powerful countries would have no choice but to go under an umbrella of super powered nations (in this case i put the U.S, Russia and China), the U.S should have been by far the first choice albeit its policies sometimes is confusing because its national interests should be first priority (it goes for every country anyway)

        November 22, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • c smythe

      you are describing the arabs if Israel should fall . . .

      November 25, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      It's people writing crap like this that give all progressive/liberal minded people a bad name. Educate yourself before you spew out propoganda like that. Im not from US so dont think im being patriotic either!

      November 27, 2012 at 3:40 am | Reply
    • Hey there

      I would say you are right....but I believe if you look at Afghan standard of living before the soviet war and after....I think you would have to modify your account on world events..

      November 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • Mik

      Guess you missed the whole south ossetia war?

      November 29, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
  50. Wes

    I've been serving on Submarines for eight years now. Did tours forward deployed in Guam and Hawaii. I can say that not all ships carry nuclear warheads. This has been an on going thing for 30+ years now, nothing new to report. If you guys only knew..haha.

    November 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • Fuzzy Thinker

      This is Not news to the US Navy. It is old-hat. But, it is exciting for the public to get tid-bits of 'possible conflict'. The writer is spinning 600 MILES distance into 'close encounters'. ha ha

      November 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  51. PT

    Call Sean Connery at once!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  52. j0eschm0e

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    November 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
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  53. Marko Ramius

    I was going to defect and give the red october to the US navy, but then someone told me they ask for papers if you want to travel from one state to another inside the USA, So, that looks too much like USSR. I decided to go back to Russia then, even Putin is more liberal than the US government these days.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:59 am | Reply
    • Dustin Goldsen

      You do not need papers to travel from one state to another in the US. There are no guard stations or check points on state lines.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:49 am | Reply
  54. Birchwood

    It seems around the time for the Defense Department to secure more money the "Russian Whipping Post" is brought forward..... Does anyone really care about a Russian Submarine off our coasts? If a launch of missiles ever happens we are all dead around the world.

    I thank Russia for not putting a Container ship off our coasts as a light house, because even in the movies Russia's bad navigation with ships is made fun of......... An old Alan Arkin movie with a Russian Submarine on the coast of Maine, comes to mind; it was a hilarious movie.

    Why doesn't pur Defense Department protect our Southern Border like they protect the Korean Border!!!?

    November 19, 2012 at 2:33 am | Reply
  55. Ed

    Turn the damn thing into a permanent home for sea life. we need to show them russians that if they don't tolerate us being so close to there land then we should show the same. Enough is Enough.

    November 17, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • primetimemagik

      Yup... real smart. They are patrolling the Atlantic ocean... when did we OWN the Atlantic ocean???

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
      • alf564

        When we got the baddest guns !

        November 18, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
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    November 16, 2012 at 12:15 am | Reply
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  58. bigfoot

    About 1 month left. If the Russians are going to start shooting, they better do so QUICKLY.

    November 15, 2012 at 5:29 am | Reply
  59. todd007

    Or it's a decoy.......................

    November 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  60. Jo

    well here ya go. Iran fires on our drones when we got too close to it. WE don't fire on a sub when it gets too close.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Reply
    • George

      Because that's how you start WWIII? This is a game the US and the Russians have been playing for a long time.

      November 13, 2012 at 1:36 am | Reply
  61. komododr

    During the cold war, a Russian admiral when asked how would he know where his submarines are, he replied, "if you want to know where our submarines are, just follow the U.S. P-3 Orion sub hunters are operating. The Northern Fleet is being track by NATO when the sub leaves port. In the 80's a Russian sub was forced to surface by a U.S. sub hunter plane somewhere in the Caribbean sea. To save face it was reported it had engine trouble.

    November 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  62. komododr

    The fabled Russian vodka like Stolichnaya is no longer owned by Russians. It is now owned by a French conglomerate. Two weeks ago a Capt. was relieved of his command of a U.S. Navy ship because he and his XO and two other junior officers werre drunk during a port visit in Russia, lol. Relieved of his command. In Russia, you'll be sent to prison camp in Siberia. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

    November 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  63. Steve

    Boring. We conduct patrols near their waters, they conduct patrols near ours. It's been going on for decades. Sad really, that we continue to rely upon spending untold billions to protect ourselves rather than try harder at living in peace.
    Steve USN (Ret) 1979-2000

    November 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • Rod

      Exactly! Whats with everyone trying to start wars for stupid crap! The drone was a drone. We were in their airspace. It happens. This Naval thing also happens alot. How bout we stop trying to find reasons to start war and try some patience.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply
      • Lagos

        Except we weren't in their airspace. Thanks for the lies, though.

        November 11, 2012 at 11:08 am |
      • Jan


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        November 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  64. Taxxman

    not all carry nuc warheads. Glad to know people who dont know what they are talking about continue to do so!
    It either had nuclear warhead capabilities or it was nuclear powered...two very different things. And not all boats are nuclear..many countries still have very active and quiet Diesel boats.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  65. Somebody

    All submarines are equipped with nuclear warheads, that's what their main purpose is... get as close as possible undetected, and fire... they are trying to keep mass hysteria down by stating that certain type of submarine doesn't carry nukes.. lies all of it, its news what do you expect?

    November 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
    • SWalkerTTU

      Most submarines do not carry nuclear weapons. The ones that do are relatively large and slow because of the size of their payload. A Sierra-2 (like the Sierra before it) is a fast-attack submarine that is lighter and carries primarily anti-shipping weapons, because the traditional purpose of a submarine is anti-ship warfare, whether those ships are civilian or military, or on or under the water.

      November 10, 2012 at 1:10 am | Reply
    • lol


      How many years did you spend in the Navy aboard submarines?

      I suspect the answer is zero.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Jo

      You Ding Dong Hunter subs do not carry nuclear warheads. I hate people this stupid!

      November 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
      • Navy

        @ Jo – Subs DO carry nukes, just happens this one doesn't....your a moron.

        November 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
      • primetimemagik

        You people are idiots... especially people that call other people idiots without knowing all the information... ever hear of a missile called the SS-N-21. Look it up.... in fact, here's a link: . Yes, some fast attacks are now being overhauled to be able to shot weapons like this... research and educate yourself before commenting on somebody else's comment. Is this anything to worry about??? No, it's just routine patrols that the Russians said they were going to do to increase their naval presence throughout the world... just like we do. I just get annoyed when people talk about things that don't have knowledge of and then call other people idiots... jumping off soap box now.

        November 18, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  66. Taxxman

    Im not going to say how I know about the sub force, but I do. And let me tell you that the last thing any Sub wants is to be decteted or tracked. This allows the advisary to know what type of noise pattern/signal they project so its easy to track them in the future. Trust me...they are in trouble for being detected. And for those who say Russia isnt a threat...theres a reason we still keep an eye on them...and its not because they arent!

    November 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • Benjamin

      Hey! I AM gonna say how I knew that subs don't want to be tracked, be photographed, forced to surface or have their sounds recorded – I read it in a book when I was about 14 years old! You're not giving away national security secrets here, Austin Powers! Why the Mr. Mysterious act?

      November 10, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
      • Azazel

        Hey, I' not going to say how I know about Austin Powers, but I do ...

        November 15, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • lol

      It's really rather sad when people have to put on an act (in this case pretending to be mysterious or to have some top secret knowledge) to get attention.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  67. jjh

    Submarines go out on patrol. They are detected by their adversary, are escorted and go home. Good to see that they are detected.

    November 9, 2012 at 9:33 am | Reply
  68. joe

    I don't see what the big deal is. They're in international waters. Does nobody but me think it's funny this story is accompanied by a picture of a Russian Sub base with three subs docked? I don't think the Russians are near the threat they used to be.

    November 9, 2012 at 8:18 am | Reply
  69. Mary

    How convenient of CNN to "find" this story after the election. Within the next few days they will "find" the story of the intelligence gathering ship that was with the sub and had to seek shelter in Jax to ride out Sandy.

    November 9, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply
    • toom

      your guy lost Mary. Try to relax

      November 9, 2012 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • Martin

      If you only knew what is really going on. Russia is a threat.

      November 9, 2012 at 9:06 am | Reply
  70. Monty

    I bet they just wanted to make sure Romney did not win the election. You have to admit he is not the most popular of men internationaly. Last I heard something like 84% of foreign nationals favored Obama over Romney.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:46 am | Reply
    • Consequence

      the best part of the 84% are the Chinese who can now expect a soft deal from the U.S. and the Russians who can now take up that promise Obama made to Medvedev. Countries that need us to be strong, like Israel and Eastern Europe, you can bet do not fall in that category.

      November 9, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Reply
      • Azazel

        I read on the Internet that 95% percent of the 50% that voted for Obama are completely dependent on 32% of the government to feed them and clothe them and turn down their government-provided bedsheets at night.

        November 15, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  71. kyle

    Well my presumption of the whole incident is that the guy who said it was an excersize was correct in some format. They were really probably testing how well you can track them to get information from you and the guy who said it was a exercise was defending them

    November 9, 2012 at 5:28 am | Reply
  72. Patch

    The Sierra II also carries SS-N-21 cruise missiles, similar to the US Tomahawk.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:27 am | Reply
  73. Rick

    There goes my damn shipment of authentic vodka...DAMNIT

    November 9, 2012 at 2:21 am | Reply
  74. FUQ the NewWorldOrder

    With the amount of distablizing attempts by the US, Iam not surprised to see a Russian sub near the US.

    November 9, 2012 at 1:46 am | Reply
  75. BigGuyWithABigPlane

    OhMan!!! These subs need to GO!! I do NOT like that the Soviet Union has U-Boats.GASP!

    November 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  76. OldGrunt

    Now we also learn that one of our drones was fired upon by Iran on November 1. The Nation learns of the incident on November 8 - two days after the election. Assume that Obama did not want to disturb the Nation so close to the election. Same for the Russian sub? But heck - it has been nearly two months since the assassination and murders in Benghazi, and we are still waiting for TRUTHFUL information on that one.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Reply
    • Paul Feder

      The article somewhat subtly suggested that this RUSSIAN submarine discovery was threatening America – "a return to cold war activities." But it sounds like the Russians were doing what US intelligence knows they are doing because the USA is doing the same thing, doing patrols and reconnaissance in international waters.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Reply
      • Harin

        Actually, this article did a good job of reporting the fact without sensationalizing the submarine's presence. Everyone knows one submarine is no threat to us and that Pultin has made a big deal of going back to the submarine patrols of the Cold War. It would have been to easy to try and turn that into something bigger than it was. The author did good.

        November 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  77. bigbiz2

    Obama's got bigger fish to fry..on the Road to Burma

    November 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  78. NicLizD

    We actually gave them safe harbor during hurricane Sandy just off the coast of J'ville, why isn't CNN reporting THAT? It's the same sub but they're leaving that part of the story out.

    One other question, one of the supposed "zingers" that Obama got out during the debates was "Gov. Romney, you were asked what was our greatest threat & you stated it was Russia. The 80s called and wants their intelligence back" yet here is this... so, now what?

    November 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • Robert Culver

      Because that wouldn't be nearly as interesting.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
      • NicLizD

        I actually find that more interesting, why would we give them safe harbor during a storm? Once you're a certain level below the water you aren't affected by the surface weather, so...

        Other story says that it was the intelligence gathering ship that was accompanying the nuclear sub that came in for safe harbor, and bringing it in closer for safe harbor actually gave it more access to gather intelligence from the Naval Sub Base in Kings Bay, GA. I live in GA... I've been to the area near Kings Bay, there are still some nukes from WWII sunken off the coast (quite a ways away but STILL) and I'm not all that happy about the idea of the re-up of Cold War activity... just sayin.

        November 8, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • scoolio

      False. This submarine was not in port during hurricane sandy.

      November 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  79. Leon

    Maybe they were expecting Romney to win?

    November 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      That or they are pro actively protecting their money interests in Syria 🙂

      November 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  80. Wastrel

    "[I]ts arrival came while a Navy carrier strike group was training off Florida, according to defense officials who could not speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the issue."

    If our own government can't tell us anything, I guess we have to ask the Russians.

    November 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • StepheninVA

      "we had better ask the Russians" .... who will most likely be as concerned about OPSEC as our own government is, and thus not very interested in giving away military secrets to civilians.

      November 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
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