America's isn't the only military to rely on heavy-lift transport vessels, the unusual class of utility ship that helped ferry the crippled USS Cole home for repairs. Russia has just released a series of photos documenting the slow return trip to the Zvezdochka shipyard for a pair of its Akula II-class submarines, the Bratsk and the Samara.
The question is, why are we seeing them at all?
Submarines are an essential component to Russia's naval capabilities. As Nikolay Cherkashin of stoletie.ru explains. Subs provide Russia with an invaluable means of sneaking relatively unhindered through these obstacles without having to launch from the far North and so it's little wonder why they've been so notoriously secretive about the submarine fleet since the end of World War II.
This is why it's rather surprising that the Kremlin is not only publishing photos of two of its more recent subs (the Bratsk was commissioned in 1989, the Samara in 1995) but also revealing that they are in line for full modernization overhauls. It could simply be more saber-rattling by the Kremlin, it could indicate a quiet efforts to strengthen its navy by a renewed and emboldened Russia. [Defensetech]
Images: Dmitry Bazunov - RT