A Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine armed with long-range cruise missiles operated undetected in the Gulf of Mexico for several weeks and its travel in strategic U.S. waters was only confirmed after it left the region, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.
|Akula class attack sub|
U.S. government/DOD photo
If Russian subs can patrol near our coastal waters without detection, it's scary. If a boomer could do the same, it would mean an EMP attack could shutdown the country just seconds, not minutes, after missile launch, giving our defense structure no time to analyze or react. Such an attack, involving just one or two nuclear warheads, detonated far above land, be enough to throw most the nation into indefinite darkness. If the attack had a second phase, direct nuclear strikes on hardened targets might come as little as 20 minutes later, taking out government centers and retaliatory capabilities. We might never know who or what hit us.
The ability to trace the source could be hampered further if an attacking sub managed to launch its missiles near an unsuspecting ship, adding more confusion to the scenario. First impressions to our DOD might be that the strike came from a surface vessel armed by a rouge nation. And the U.S. ability to do further analysis could go away with phase one or phase two of the attack.
The threat would likely compound if Russia places a navy base in Cuba, something that's reported as under consideration.
But not every one is buying the Russian sub threat, let alone the tale of patroling the gulf undetected. StrategyPage.com, for example, dismisses the Free Beacon report citing the publication's politically aligned, non-profit status.