The Russians are Back, Why so Close to our Shores, Where is the Irish Navy?

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Suspected Russian ‘spy ship’ spotted loitering off coast of Ireland after ‘going off track’

The Akademik Pashin is an oil-tanker for Russia’s Northern Fleet and it appears to have gone off its expected track. It is also suspected that it could be with a mystery companion.

  • 18:41, 17 AUG 2022
The Russian cruiser Marshal Ustinov, a Slava-class cruiser of the Russian Navy, is seen after anchoring at Moda on January 06, 2020 The third largest vessel in the Northern Fleet, Marshal Ustinov, had been due to take part in exercises off the Cork Coast in February (Image: Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A Russian naval ship has been spotted off the coast of Ireland after appearing to go off its expected track.

A different turn

It immediately came to the attention of experts who track Russian naval activity after it didn’t turn south-west after leaving the English Channel as expected.

The Akademik Pashin popped up unexpectedly on radar just 75 nautical miles (140km) south of the west Cork coast.

  • The ship is an ‘oiler’ for Russia’s giant Northern Fleet – a support ship that shadows the fighting ships of the Northern Fleet, Cork Beo reports.

Unusual activity

It’s one of the Russian Navy’s newest vessels, having been commissioned in January 2020, and works as a replenishment oiler, carrying fuel, oil, diesel, aviation kerosene, lubricating oil, water, food and spare parts. It has also been associated with intelligence operations.

Multiple Marine Traffic scanner sites noticed the ship’s unusual activity on Wednesday morning and took to social media to comment.

One popular Twitter account that specialises in tracking Russian Ships on ‘NATO’s northern flank’ alerted Defence Analysts and amateur ship spotters, saying that the Akademik Pashin was not following its anticipated track west out into the wider Atlantic.

It also suspected that it could be with a mystery companion.

The Lookout wrote: “The Northern Fleet oiler Akademik Pashin didn’t turn south-west upon leaving the English Channel as expected, but appears to be operating south of Ireland, possibly along with an unknown companion.”

The Akademik Pashin can be tracked by ordinary marine radar and tracker sites – but the fighting ships it usually accompanies cannot, as they do not have civilian and merchant transponders – or Automatic identification systems (AIS) – and are effectively ‘cloaked’ from view.

If the Akademik Pashin is operating with Russian Naval ships – they would almost certainly already be tracked by NATO and the UK’s Royal Airforce.

It popped up just 75 nautical miles (140km) due south of the coast of Ireland, which is even closer than where the Russian fleet was planning to hold exercises in February.

In January, Cork fishermen made international headlines when a group of them travelled to Dublin to meet with the Russian Ambassador to Ireland to protest against the planned naval live-fire exercises being held off the Cork coast.

The exercises were eventually called off after official protests from the Irish Government.

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