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Photo Essay of Soviet Harassment



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Photo Essay of Soviet Harassment of U.S. Search and Rescue/Salvage Ships

(For a detailed description of the Soviet deception, see The Great Russian Ruse.)


Soviet Coastal Patrol Boat - under command of KGB General Romanenko


... I've always wondered what really happened because I was on board USS Badger FF1071 for the "search and rescue/salvage" operation...a few things clicked like the TOTAL absence of debris. I never saw one thing floating except for other ships...I wonder if we were even looking in the right spot...

-- A U.S. seaman


US Coast Guard Cutter Monro (official USCG photo)


Incidents of Soviet Harrassment

7 September The USS Elliot’s helicopter harassed by Soviet aircraft.
15 September The USNS Narragansett reported hazardous maneuvering by the Soviet ship Alpinist.
18 September The Narragansett harassed by the Pegus.
19 September USNS Conserver operations met with interference from the Gavril Sarychev. The USS Sterrett met with interference from the Pegus.
23 September The near collision of the USS Callaghan and the Gavril Sarychev.
27 September The Kashin class destroyer no. 660 interfered with the flight of a U.S. Navy helicopter.  Radar lock-ons of U.S. Navy ships by the Kara class cruiser Petropavlovsk and the Kashin class destroyer Odarennyy.
26 October Soviet combatants crisscrossed in front of the USS Tower and the Conserver.
(Cold War at Sea, David F. Winkler, U.S. Naval Institute Press, June 2000, pg. 47)


The destroyer in the above photo is the USS Eliott DD967


Conserver, Narragansett, Alpinist, Moma.  Sea of Japan.  A Soviet Alpinist class intelligence ship and a Soviet Moma class intelligence collection ship shadow the fleet tug USNS Narragansett (T-ATF-167) and the USS Conserver (ARS-39) during salvage operations for downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007.  Official U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Paul Soutar (Released)


Petropavlovsk & Narragansett.  Sea of Japan.  The fleet tug USNS Narragansett (T-ATF-167) is shadowed by the Soviet Kara class guided missile cruiser Petropavlovsk (565) during salvage operations for downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007.  Official U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Paul Soutar (Released)


Soviet Kara cruiser Petropavlovsk


27 September - The Kashin class destroyer no. 660 interfered with the flight of a U.S. Navy helicopter. Radar lock-ons of U.S. Navy ships by the Kara class guided missile cruiser Petropavlovsk and the Kashin class destroyer Odarennyy. An Act of War. Official U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Paul Soutar (Released)


Search area


Rear Admiral Walter T. Piotti

Admiral Piotti would describe the provocative, obstructive and dangerous activities of the Soviets as follows (from the U.S. 6th Fleet Task Force 71 After Action Report):

…maneuvers which prevented ships towing search sensors from making good their programmed search track, maneuvers with significant potential for cutting/fouling umbilicals of towed sensors or the deep drone and extremely close approaches to moored Japanese charter ships which their masters believed risked collision or damage to their moors (which in several cases did occur). It appeared at the time and remains so in retrospect, that the Soviets deliberately harassed and sought to intimidate the masters of the Japanese charter ships.

…close escorts [by U.S. combatants] including interposition in risk of collision situations was not sufficient to prevent the intimidation of the First Master of Maru NR 3, who twice slipped his moor rather than remain in what he considered a vulnerable position.

The 1991 Republican Staff Study of the Committee on Foreign Relations would add to and amplify Commander Piotti’s list.

Moreover, the Soviet Navy and auxiliary vessels committed many serious violations of the 1972 Incident at Sea Agreement… such as attempted ramming of several U.S. and allied ships, presenting false flag and fake light signals, locking on the radar guidance of their weapons… sending an armed boarding party to threaten to board a Japanese auxiliary vessel chartered by the U.S. They engaged in a naval live-firing exercise northwest of Moneron Island, and sent Backfire bombers armed with air-to-surface nuclear-armed missiles to threaten the U.S. Navy search task force… move(d) U.S. sonar markers… manipulated the U.S. Navy search efforts into searching for decoy “pingers” on the sea bottom in very deep, international waters.

Piotti would conclude:

Had TF [task force] 71 been permitted to search without restriction imposed by (Soviet) claimed territorial waters, the aircraft stood a good chance of having been found.

And here is the Soviet's own recording (from KGB head V. Chebrikov and Defence Minister D. Ustinov to Premier of Soviet Union Y. Andropov) of their deception of the U.S. fleet and the world, confirming that while they were pretending to search and while they were harrassing the U.S. fleet, they already knew where KAL 007 was, had already boarded her, and had secured for themselves the sought after "Black Box":

Simulated search efforts in the Sea of Japan are being performed by our vessels at present in order to disinform the US and Japan. These activities will be discontinued in accordance with a specific plan...

...Therefore, if the flight recorders shall be transferred to the western countries their objective data can equally be used by the USSR and the western countries in proving the opposite view points on the nature of the flight of the South Korean airplane. In such circumstances a new phase in anti-Soviet hysteria cannot be excluded.

In connection with all mentioned above it seems highly preferable not to transfer the flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or any third party willing to decipher their contents. The fact that the recorders are in possession of the USSR shall be kept secret...

As far as we are aware neither the US nor Japan has any information on the flight recorders. We have made necessary efforts in order to prevent any disclosure of the information in future.

Looking to your approval.

D.Ustinov, V.Chebrikov

____ December 1983

From Top Secret Memos disclosed in 1992 by Boris Yeltsin and published in Izvestia, #228, Oct. 16, 1992.


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