Submarine Sneaks into Beirut? Why That’s Badposted at 7:57 pm on May 6, 2010 by J.E. Dyer
[ National Defense ] printer-friendly Retired Army Major General Paul Vallely spoke to Pajamas Media for a video posted today in which he says a Russian submarine offloaded hazardous cargo in Beirut a “couple of weeks ago.” This is something I had heard from another source last week. I imagine the ultimate source is Israeli intelligence.
According to MG Vallely, the Russian submarine flew the flag of Iran while it was in port Beirut. He indicated the sub probably came from the Baltic, but offered no other details.
My assessment: the report has a strong likelihood of being valid, but I doubt the submarine in question is a unit of the Russian Navy. It was probably a Kilo-class diesel-powered attack submarine (SS) built in Russia for export. A number of navies operate the Kilo SS. Those navies include Iran, but I discount the possibility that this was actually one of Iran’s three Kilos. An Iranian submarine could not transit the Suez Canal unreported, and could not circumnavigate Africa without refueling – an exposed and detectable event. Moreover, it is very unlikely that Iran would commit one of only three submarines to such an extended deployment, when there are a number of alternatives that would not require putting one-third of her premier anti-shipping force out of position for contingencies in the Persian Gulf.
If we factor in Vallely’s reference to the Baltic, the most likely candidate becomes an export Kilo built in the yards near St. Petersburg for Algeria. Algeria has two older Kilos from then-Soviet Russia, and in 2006 commissioned two new ones, of improved design (the Type 636 improvement on the old Type 877 Kilo).
(For an extended analysis of why the submarine in Beirut was probably the first of Algeria’s new-order Kilos, see the companion post at my website here. Be sure not to miss the video clip of the new Algerian Kilo conducting sea trials in the Baltic Sea ice.)