Navy confrontation on the Black Sea not as serious as it looks
Posted by John Keller
Lately I've been reading with interest some stories in the press that suggest an armed standoff between the navies of the United States and Russia in and around the Georgia port of Poti on the Black Sea.
My favorite is a story in the The Times
of London headlined US warship confronts Russian military in ‘tinderbox’ port
I had the impression that we had heavily armed warships
of the U.S. and Russia tied up at opposite piers at general quarters with snarling gun crews
at the ready. Then I noticed the specific U.S. warship involved, and breathed a sigh of relief.
It's the It's the USS Mount Whitney
This important vessel, the flagship of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, is a joint command ship. It's built to accommodate high-ranking joint-force commanders, and to serve as a combined-forces command-and-control headquarters. It also was the first U.S. Navy combatant to permanently accommodate women on board.
The vessel's stock in trade is shipboard communications
. It can handle reams of secure data through HF, UHF, VHF, SHF, and EHF communications links, which enable the ship's joint intelligence center and joint operations center to gather and fuse information while at sea.
While it's C4I capabilities are awesome, the Mount Whitney
is only lightly armed. It's got some air-defense missiles and a few guns. Suffice it to say that it just isn't one you'd send by itself into harm's way if you're looking for a fight. It's got too few guns and too many admirals on board to steam to where the shooting is.
Although the Mount Whitney is in an obviously dangerous place, contrary to what you might surmise from the headlines, the Mount Whitney
is on a peaceful mission to send aid to Georgia after Russian tanks and soldiers got through manhandling that small country on a mission of intimidation.
Serious fighting surface ships -- like cruisers, carriers, and destroyers -- are designed to make noise and break things. The Mount Whitney
, on the other hand, is on station in Georgia to help pick up the pieces