CRIMEA, Ua. – A Russian nuclear armed submarine stationed with the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea vanished Saturday night according to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moscow’s government-run daily news organization. The Borei-class sub is one of Russia’s new stealth subs, dubbed a “black hole” by the U.S. Navy due to the fact that it is undetectable by U.S. radar when fully submerged.
Ahmet Hakan, a high-ranking official within the Turkish government, told the BBC the Turkish navy was tracking the sub when it left the Crimean port but “after passing through the Bosporus Strait and entering the Aegean Sea, it dropped off radar.” The Turkish navy believes the sub may have been heading to the Mediterranean Sea, which leads to the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Kremlin has yet to officially comment on the sub’s disappearance but a member of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Sky News foreign affairs correspondent Langdale Pike that Russia believes the stealth sub may have been hijacked by Chechen separatists.
The rogue sub, named the Vladimir Monomakh, is one of the most advanced submarines to date and, in terms of stealth, is far quieter than anything in the United States’ naval fleet. It has the capability to dive further than 1,200 feet below sea level and is reportedly carrying a payload of twenty intercontinental ballistic missiles, which can travel over 8,000 kilometers before reaching their intended targets. Each ICBM, in turn, carries ten multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, with each warhead yielding over 150 kilotons of explosive force.
The disappearance of the fully armed stealth sub is a potentially large embarrassment for Russia, coming on the heels of President Putin’s assertion that he has the right to deploy nuclear forces in Russian territories, including Crimea.