Nuclear submarine leaves Gibraltar headed for Black Sea

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Russian submarine launches cruise missile in the Sea of Japan

The world’s largest nuclear submarine has been spotted leaving Gibraltar under intense protection from the Royal Marines as it reportedly heads towards the Black Sea. The USS Rhode Island’s departure comes as fears grow over what Vladimir Putin will do after another humiliating retreat.

Yesterday, the Russian President called for civilians to leave Kherson in the south of Ukraine due to the advancing counter-offensive on the occupied city.

Officials and Russian commanders who had been installed by the Kremlin in the occupied region were seen fleeing as the Ukrainian counter-offensive pushed south.

Putin’s regime has repeatedly claimed Ukraine was planning to set of a dirty bomb – an explosive laced with radioactive material – which intelligence officials believe may be a precursor to a false flag operation.

The US Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine arrived in Gibraltar for a scheduled stop on Tuesday.

Prior to her visit to the British overseas territory, the Rhode Island visited His Majesty’s Naval Base in Clyde, Scotland in July 2022.

Captain John Craddock, commander of the US Navy’s Task Force 69, commented earlier this week: “Rhode Island’s port visit to Gibraltar reinforces our ironclad commitment to our allies and partners in the region.

“The US and UK share a strong history of cooperation, through exercises, operations, and cooperation activities such as this, that enhance our combined capabilities and partnership.

“The complexity, lethality, and tactical expertise of Rhode Island epitomises the effectiveness and strength of the submarine force.”

The Georgia-based submarine, which was first launched in 1993, is described by the US Navy as “flexible and survivable, with the ability to patrol continuously as a highly-effective element of the US nuclear deterrence force.”

It is equipped with 24 missile tubes and four torpedo tubes, and has been assigned to Submarine Group 10. It is capable of firing Trident II missiles.

Task Force 69 is responsible for submarine warfare operations in the United States European Command and US African Command areas of responsibility.

Specifically, Task Force 69 is composed of attack submarines and guided missile submarines capable of a range of combat and intelligence collection missions.

The last time a US Navy submarine conducted a port visit to Gibraltar was in June 2021, when the USS Alaska made a stop there.

Ahead of its arrival, James Heappey, the Armed Forces minister, emphasised that the UK Government would not compromise on the Rock’s sovereignty at a reception hosted by the Gibraltar Government in London.

He said: “Because the bases in Gibraltar are of huge strategic importance, not just to the United Kingdom but to Europe as a whole.

“In recent, months when Russian submarines have been doing what Russian submarines do, it’s amazing how many times Gibraltar as an option for positioning of maritime reconnaissance aircraft has come up.

“Which just goes to show how valuable Gibraltar is to the Western Mediterranean and mid-Atlantic, as Cyprus is to the eastern Mediterranean.”

On Thursday, Andrey Kelin, the Russian ambassador to the court of St James claimed that the UK was “too deep” in the Ukraine conflict, warning of a “dangerous” potential for escalation.

Andrey Kelin also claimed British forces had been involved in a drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet at the weekend, in which three warships were reportedly damaged, including the flagship Makarov.

He added: “We perfectly know about participation of British specialists in training, preparation and execution of plans against the Russian infrastructure and the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. We know that it has been done.

A UK Government spokesperson said the Russian allegations were an attempt to “distract attention” from its horrific invasion of Ukraine and its woeful mismanagement of the war.

They added: “We do not plan to give a running commentary on these allegations; it is no secret that the United Kingdom has taken a public lead in our support to Ukraine – this has been enduring since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.”

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