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Russia: Power Play on the Oceans

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RUSSIA (See Cover)

The flag of the Soviet navy now proudly flies over the oceans of the world. Sooner or later, the U.S. will have to understand that it no longer has mastery of the seas.

—Admiral Sergei Gorshkov

The author of that threatening boast walked up to a snake charmer in the Indian city of Agra last week and, while his aides looked on aghast, seized a thick, six-foot-long python in his strong hands and draped it over his shoulders. Making a ten-day tour of India, the commander of the Russian navy was acting like the traditional sailor on shore leave. He viewed the Taj Mahal by moonlight, visited the Nehru Museum and the site where Mahatma Gandhi’s body was cremated, and shopped for souvenirs. But Admiral Sergei Georgievich Gorshkov’s trip to India had an entirely serious purpose, as do all his trips these days. He is trying to line up a worldwide system of ports of call and bases for his navy, and he hoped to persuade India, which is about to receive at least three submarines from the Soviet Union, to reciprocate by allowing Soviet men-of-war to fuel and make repairs in Indian ports.

While the attention of the U.S. is fo cused on Viet Nam, the Russians are mounting at sea a new challenge that the U.S. and its allies will have to deal with long after the fighting in Southeast Asia is ended. This may come as a surprise to most laymen—but not to U.S. naval experts. While Russia’s stock of intercontinental missiles and its huge land army on Europe’s periphery still remain the major military threats to the West, in recent years the Russians have developed a global navy second only to the U.S. in size and weaponry. As a comparison between the two navies shows (see chart), the U.S. remains indisputably the world’s greatest sea power. But, in a remarkable turnaround since World War II, Moscow has transformed a relatively insignificant coastal-defense force that seldom ventured far from land into a real blue-water fleet.

If any one man is responsible for this change, it is Admiral Gorshkov, 57, who became the youngest admiral in Soviet history at 31 and has guided the growth of the navy as its chief for the past twelve years. He has totally reshaped the Soviet Union’s once conservative naval strategy and transformed the fleet into the most effective and flexible arm of Soviet foreign policy.

Formidable Fleets. Since 1957, Russia has added to its navy virtually all of the ships that now make up its impressive striking power. It has a modern force of 19 cruisers, 170 destroyers, missile frigates and destroyer escorts, and 560 motor torpedo boats. Its 360 submarines, 55 of them nuclear, give Russia the world’s largest submarine fleet, far exceeding the U.S. total of 155 subs but falling short of the U.S. fleet of 75 nuclear subs.

Moreover, unlike other naval powers, the Soviet Union uses its merchant marine and other seagoing services as important arms of the navy. Russia has the world’s fastest-growing merchant fleet, which will pass the lagging U.S. merchant marine in tonnage in the early 1970s. Its high-seas fishing fleet is the world’s largest and most modern; many of its 4,000 craft fish for vital information along foreign coasts as well as for the creatures of the sea. The Sovi et Union also has the largest oceanographic fleet, whose 200 ships plumb the earth’s waters for militarily valuable data on depths, currents, bottom topography and other information of interest to its ships and submarines. Says Admiral John McCain Jr., commander in chief of U.S. naval forces in Eu rope: “The Russian program to develop its seapower is more advanced and fully developed today than most people realize. It encompasses the full spectrum of the uses of the sea—in its military, economic, political and commercial connotations.”

The new Soviet emphasis on seapower represents a major strategic decision. With its arsenal of 720 ICBMs more than offset by a larger U.S. deterrent, with its huge land army muscle-bound and deprived of global mobility in the middle of the great Eurasian land mass, Russia has turned to the sea to break out of its own geographic confines and attempt to wield truly global power.

Using the navy as a political as well as a military force, the Kremlin hopes that its mere presence in many places will act as a deterrent to the U.S. Moreover, the Russians want to be ready to move quickly into any areas where U.S. power and prestige may recede. They not only plan to project a more tangible Russian influence in the underdeveloped world but also, by using their merchant fleet, to get a strong hold on the raw materials vital to Soviet—and often to American—industry. Ultimately, though, the Russian navy’s biggest threat is a military one. Its offensive strategy not only zeroes submarine-carried nuclear missiles in on U.S. cities, but aims to isolate North America from Europe and Asia in case of war.

Bridge of Trouble. The imperial reach of the Soviet navy has already begun to have its impact on world events. In the tense Sea of Japan, a flotilla of 16 Soviet cruisers and missile frigates has in the past few weeks shouldered its way between the coast of North Korea and the U.S. Navy task force that was sent into the area to add some muscle to U.S. diplomatic demands for the return of the Pueblo and its crew. Soviet destroyers have also closely shadowed the carrier Enterprise, which withdrew because of North Korean protests shortly before the Soviet navy’s approach. The Soviet presence checkmates the U.S. pressure on North Korea and gives the Kremlin a local pressure point without having to resort to nuclear threats.

Soviet seapower sustains the two countries that are giving the U.S. the most trouble. A bridge of 150 freighters from Russian ports carries to Haiphong the SAMs, the petroleum, the rockets, the assault rifles and the ammunition that keep North Viet Nam fighting and killing U.S. soldiers. More over, it is the fear of hitting those Russian ships that has so far ‘ept the

U.S. from bombing Haiphong’s piers or mining the harbor. And it is another bridge of Soviet ships that carries the $1,000,000-a-day in supplies that sustains Castro’s Cuba as the only Communist foothold in the Hemisphere.

Outflanking NATO. In the Mediterranean, the impact of the Soviet fleet has been particularly dramatic. Where Russia had only half a dozen ships a year ago, it now has 46 ships, almost as many as the 50-ship U.S. fleet, which for years had made the “Med” practically an American lake. Many of the Soviet ships came through the Dardanelles during the Six-Day War, and their arrival helped persuade the Israelis to accept a ceasefire. The Soviets have enhanced their new image as the protector of their Arab allies by keeping a few ships in Alexandria and Port Said so that Israeli bombers will not be tempted to blast away at the vast amount of war materiel that is flowing into those ports.

One main Soviet objective is to outflank NATO’s land-based defenses—a goal that the Russian navy has partial ly reached by penetrating the Mediterranean. In a report to the Western European Union last November, Dutch Delegate Frans Goedhart warned: “It is no longer correct to speak of the ‘danger’ of the Soviet Union outflanking the NATO southern flank. This ‘danger’ has become a reality.” To the north, the Russians have also turned the Baltic into a virtual Red Sea on which their warships now outnumber NATO forces 5 to 1.

To support its growing naval activity, Russia is searching for new bases and ports of call. Soviet diplomats are setting up an embassy in the new republic of South Yemen, where the Russians have their eye on the former British naval installation at Aden; the installation not only controls entry to the Red Sea but is an ideal base from which to expand influence into the oil-rich sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. The Soviets may also be able to use the facilities of the big British naval base at Singapore, which Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew has said he will rent to all comers after the Royal Navy pulls out in 1971. The big question in the Mediterranean is whether the Russians will move into the Algerian naval base at Mers-el-Kebir, which the French evacuated last month; it is only 315 miles east of Gibraltar. Russians have also used their influence with the Arabs to set up secret stockpiles of spare parts within trucking distance of Arab ports.

Russian Marines. Admiral Gorshkov s ships are not only wide-ranging but among the world’s newest and best equipped. Unlike the U.S. and Britain, both of which emerged from World War II with large surface fleets, Russia had to start practically from scratch after the war. The result: while 60% of the U.S. fleet consists of ships 25 years old or older, the Soviet navy’s sur face fleet is sleek and modern. “Almost every time you go into a harbor,” says U.S. Navy Captain Harry Allendorfer, an expert on Soviet seapower, “if there are no flag markings and you pick out the cleanest and best-looking ships, nine out of ten of them will be Russian.”

The Soviet Union is adding to its fleet of 55 nuclear-powered submarines at the rate of five a year. Most of the Soviet nukes are hunter-killers whose mission is to destroy U.S. Polaris subs in time of war, but a growing number fire a new underwater missile that has a range of at least 1,500 miles (v. the U.S. missile’s range of 2,500 miles). Since he believes that naval guns are obsolete, Admiral Gorshkov has equipped almost all Soviet surface ships, from the smallest to the largest, with ship-to-ship missiles. The Soviet missiles are so-called “cruise missiles” that fly about 700 miles an hour, steer themselves either by radar or heat-seeking systems and carry either conventional or nuclear warheads. The U.S. experimented with similar weapons in the 1950s but dropped them in favor of concentrating on “the Polaris and airpower. No Western navy, in fact, has such missiles.

Soviet cruisers and the Kresta-and Kynda-class destroyers carry the SSN3 missile, which can hit enemy ships at a range of 200 miles. The Krupny-and KiWm-class destroyers carry the 100-mile range SSN1 missiles, and the speedy Osa and Komar torpedo boats are armed with Styx missiles, whose effective range is 20 miles. A Styx fired by the Egyptians from a Komar sank the Israeli destroyer Elath off Port Said last October. U.S. Navymen insist that their planes would knock out Soviet ships before they got within firing range of U.S. warships or, failing that, that U.S. antiaircraft rockets would intercept the missiles in flight. But the U.S. Navy has now started work on ship-to-ship missiles of its own.

Admiral Gorshkov is also developing a new force that will give the Russians the ability to intervene in trouble spots, much as the U.S. did in Lebanon and the Dominican Republic. The Soviet navy has built its first carrier, a new 25,000-tonner called the Moscow, which is now on a training course in the Black Sea, and is readying a second, the Leningrad, for sea trials; some Western sea experts feel that the Russians may build many more. The Soviet carriers have landing areas only on the rear and can thus handle only helicopters or vertical-takeoff aircraft. They are similar, in fact, to the American I wo Jima-type LPH (for Landing Pad Helicopter), of which the U.S. Navy has eight, two of them stationed in Viet Nam waters as offshore bases for Marines. So far, the Soviets have given no indication that they will advance to the large U.S.-style attack carriers, since they consider such carriers vulnerable to attacks by missiles.

The Russians do have, however, a force similar to the U.S. Marines. It is the so-called Naval Infantry that fought as regular ground units during World

War II but was later disbanded. Reorganized in 1964 just after the construction of the carriers began, the Naval Infantry now numbers 10,000 men who wear distinctive black berets, are chosen for outstanding physical fitness and aggressiveness. The Naval Infantry are carried on special landing craft and have tanks that can “swim” from ship to shore in amphibious landings.

Collecting Lovers. The Soviet surge at sea should come as no surprise to the West. Actually, the Russians have been reaching out to the oceans since

Peter the Great ascended the throne in 1689. Under the guise of Peter Mikhailov, carpenter, the young Czar traveled to The Netherlands and England to learn how to build ships. In 1714, his fleet defeated the Swedes at Hango, thus opening through the Baltic a “Window to the West” for his backward country.

Peter’s successors frittered away the fleet, but when Catherine the Great came to power in 1762, she began a massive rebuilding program. To find enough officers to command her new ships, Catherine collected foreign naval men almost as fast as she collected lovers. Among them was the American Revolutionary War hero, John Paul Jones, who, despite his bravery and gift for quick phrasemaking, had risen no higher than captain in the U.S. Navy. In return for an admiral’s rank, Jones took command of a Russian sailing fleet composed of four battleships, eight frigates and assorted smaller craft that helped chase the Turks from the Black Sea. Unfortunately, his morals were nearly as bad as Catherine’s, and rival admirals used a scandal about his deflowering a young Russian girl to chase him out.

Throughout the 19th century, Russia remained the world’s third largest naval power (after Britain and France), but it was a largely untested one. The testing came in the 1904-05 war with Japan. In the straits of Tsushima, the Japanese met a fleet of 37 Russian ships and sank or captured all but four of them. It was the last time the Russians fought a naval engagement on the high seas.

What was left of the navy became a hotbed of anti-czarist agitation. In 1917, the guns of the cruiser Aurora fired a blank salvo at the Winter Palace in Petrograd and started the October Revolution. At first, sailors were the new Soviet government’s most trusted fighters, but Lenin managed to alienate them. He put in charge of the navy a commissar who was, of all things, a woman, named Larisa Reisner-Raskol-nikova, and refused to allow the sailors to organize their own self-ruling local governments. As a result, the Baltic Fleet suddenly mutinied in 1921. Lenin crushed the revolt, but he never forgave the navy. He demoted it to the inglorious position of “naval forces of the Red Army” and decreed a new strategy that called for only a defensive fleet whose main weaponry would be submarines.

By 1932, the U.S.S.R. had some 25 subs, but Lenin’s successor, Stalin, was dissatisfied with such an invisible fleet. In the mid-1930s, he reinstated the navy as an independent service and started building a huge surface fleet. The Germans captured the partly finished hulks when they swept into Russia in 1941. Thus the mission of defending the Red Army’s coastal flanks fell to the Soviet navy’s ragtag fleet. Most seagoing men would have chafed at such a coastline assignment, but a young captain named Sergei Gorshkov welcomed it as an opportunity.

Youngest Admiral. Born in the Ukraine, Gorshkov joined the navy when he was 17, and graduated from Leningrad’s Frunze Academy, the Russian equivalent of Annapolis, four years later. When war broke out, he was the commander of a handful of antiquated cruisers and assorted small craft in the Black Sea. As the German invaders rushed toward the oilfields of the Caucasus, Gorshkov became expert at amphibious operations, plucking trapped Soviet troops from the Crimean coasts and landing them farther eastward to fight again.

During those years, Gorshkov also formed the attachment for heavily armed small craft that is reflected today in the Soviet navy’s emphasis on Komar and Osa torpedo boats. He welded the turrets from T-34 tanks to motorboats and formed a river fleet that harassed the Germans from Rostov-on-Don to Vienna on the Danube. The young admiral impressed some Red Army officers who were fighting in the area. One was a major general named Leonid Brezhnev, another a lieutenant general named Nikita Khrushchev.

Sitting Ducks. After the war, Stalin started building big warships again, but only 15 cruisers had been completed by the time he died in 1953. The new chief in the Kremlin had no sympathy for Stalin’s plans. Nikita Khrushchev fired Stalin’s navy chief, Admiral Kuznetsov, and brought in Gorshkov, who by then was naval chief of staff.

The assignment turned out to be a bitter one. Khrushchev believed that missiles had made surface ships “sitting ducks.” He derided cruisers as “fit only for traveling on state visits,” and scrapped four that were still under construction. He even passed the word to the admirals to stay away from the round of receptions and parties during the 1956 air force day celebrations. Spotting four soldiers rowing a boat on a Moscow pond, Khrushchev joked to one of his American guests: “There is our navy!” He went as far as to contemplate disbanding the navy and transferring its missile-firing submarines to a new unified missile command.

As a party member since 1942, Gorshkov knew better than to openly oppose Khrushchev. But as a skilled politician himself, he knew well how to stall. He subtly resisted the missile enthusiasts in the Kremlin, kept alive the concept of surface ships. Then Khrushchev decided to put missiles in Castro’s Cuba—and the whole game changed. The humiliation of their backdown under the guns of the U.S. Navy impressed on the Soviet leaders the value of naval power. Shortly after the crisis, Khrushchev sent an order to the admiral: Create a surface fleet.

Gorshkov’s own status reflects the navy’s elevation to a place of importance. His fleet ranks in the top troika of Russian weaponry, alongside the ICBM command, a separate service in the Soviet setup, and the air force strategic bombers. In the chain of command, Gorshkov reports directly to the Defense Ministry. He was elected to the Central Committee in 1961, became a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1965 and was promoted last year to the exalted five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, only the third to get that honor in the history of the Soviet navy.

As befits his rank, he is chauffeured each morning from his spacious Moscow apartment to the Defense Ministry in Arbatskaya Square. Gorshkov seldom entertains and rarely appears at diplomatic functions. Married, he often spends weekends with his wife at their government-supplied dacha near Moscow. Like most high-ranking Soviet officers, he is withdrawn even from his personal staff, spent most of the time that he was not traveling about in India alone in his bedroom.

Czarist Traditions. Peter the Great would probably feel more at home in the Soviet navy than Lenin or Trotsky-Aside from the fact that nearly all officers are party members and that each ship has a political officer who gives daily indoctrination lectures for everyone, navy life reflects the traditions of the czars more than those of the commissars. Discipline is extremely rigid, and the gap between officers and men is far greater than in the U.S. or British navy. The officers’ quarters are far more spacious, their food far tastier, their dining rooms more elegant, their uniforms much fancier. The disparity in pay between officers and men is right out of the times that drove Karl Marx to write Das Kapital; a first-term seaman earns $5 a month, a lieutenant earns 100 times more, and a rear admiral 400 times that much. There is an additional discrimination that probably is due to the Soviet Union’s problem with alcoholism. While officers may tipple in moderation onshore—and those of the Black Sea Fleet may even enjoy white wine at meals—Soviet sailors are forbidden at all times to drink on either land or sea. From all indications, the order is surprisingly well obeyed.

Russia’s seamen—nearly all are draftees who serve for three years—nonetheless live better than many factory workers. The food is plentiful, and the crew quarters are relatively comfortable and clean. The ships have air conditioning, well-stocked libraries, TV sets for reception in ports and coastal areas and movies twice a week. Sailors organize singing and music groups, play dominoes and chess and, at every opportunity, sunbathe on deck in what U.S.

Navymen call the “Soviet uniform”-white jockey shorts.

Unlike their Western counterparts, the Soviet sailors are not allowed to let off steam in foreign ports. They go ashore only in groups escorted by a petty officer, take in local museums, points of historical interest, and window-shop. They buy few souvenirs, avoid bars and prostitutes and never tip. Usually they return to their ships by nightfall. In the ports along the Mediterranean where the Soviet fleet has displaced the Western ones, hawkers and whores are dismayed by the spartan conduct and serious demeanor of the Russian sailors.

Harassment Policy. The Soviet navy’s 465,000 men are also deadly serious about their chief task: a potentially lethal game of espionage and tag. Gorshkov’s fleet has expanded its activity on the seas by three hundredfold in the last ten years, and much of its effort is devoted to a determined policy of harassment, probing and provocation. Across the oceans of the world, the light-grey-hulled Soviet warships are watching, trailing and sometimes crowdj ing the ships of the Western fleets, especially those of the U.S. Navy.

Soviet warships and electronic intelligence trawlers stalk U.S., British and other Western fleets far from the shores of the Soviet Union. Soviet subs and destroyers shadow the U.S. carriers in the Mediterranean, keeping a watch offshore when the carriers go into port and taking up the chase again when they come out. A fleet of espionage ships keeps watch off U.S. Polaris submarine bases at such places as Holy Loch in Scotland, Rota in Spain and Charleston, S.C. Other snoopers sit off Seattle, New England, and Cape Kennedy, where the Soviets monitor the U.S. space shots.

Soviet behavior at sea is becoming increasingly cocky. From the Mediterranean to the Sea of Japan, Soviet destroyers and trawlers boldly maneuver into the midst of formations of U.S. ships. Frequently, the intruders suddenly cut across the bow of an American ship to test the skill and technique of the helmsmen. The Russians also try to ruin maneuvers between the U.S. and its allies. In the Sea of Japan last year, Soviet warships scraped the U.S. destroyer Walker twice in an obvious attempt to break up a joint antisub exercise between U.S. and Japanese fleets. “Seafaring nations for centuries have allowed ships to proceed peacefully on the high seas,” says Vice Admiral William I. Martin, commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. “This is quite new—to barge in on a formation.”

Carrier v. Bomber. Because the Russians consider the U.S.’s seaborne air-power to be a major threat in case of all-out war, one of their favorite tricks is to harass and probe U.S. carriers. Soviet destroyers and trawlers try to break a carrier’s screen of protective smaller ships in order to force the flattop to change course while launching or landing aircraft and thus maybe dump a few planes into the sea. In the air, bombers of the Soviet navy^s 750-plane, land-based air force continually test to see how close they can approach U.S. carriers before they are detected by radar and intercepted by the carrier’s own planes. Their aim is to avoid being caught until they have got within 100 miles of the carrier. Reason: from that range, the Russians would have a good chance of scoring a hit with their air-to-ship missiles before the carrier could scramble fighters to shoot down their bombers.

The U.S. Navy has become increasingly watchful and wary of the Soviet navy. To keep track of its movements. U.S. reconnaissance planes overfly Soviet warships at sea at least once daily and sometimes more often in areas near the U.S. coasts and Viet Nam. U.S. planners plot the course of every Soviet ship in the Pacific on a huge map in the war room of the U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii; the U.S.’s Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets keep similar grids on the location of Red warships. As a precautionary measure, U.S. carriers keep a so-called Air Cap of three or four fighters in the air at all times whenever they sail within range of Soviet navy bombers. The Air Cap mission is to intercept the Soviets at least 200 miles out and to “escort” the Russians as they fly over the U.S. task force.

Search for Scars. The most dangerous game of all takes place beneath the seas. For the U.S., the game involves chiefly the detection and tracking down of Soviet subs. For the Russians, it is largely a matter of attempting to elude the American searchers.

As they pass through the ocean depths, submarines invariably give off “scars”—traces of heat and turbulence caused by the ship’s passage through the waters. The U.S. employs ultrasensitive infra-red devices in satellites and planes to look down into the oceans and detect the scars. Submarines also give off what Navymen call “an electronic signature” that, like a human fingerprint, is unique. The signature is the sum total of the sub’s sounds—the beat of its screw, thump of its pumps, rustle of its wake. To detect those signatures, the U.S. uses a variety of acute listening devices, including two networks of sonar cables, called Caesar and Sosus, that are placed in the ocean depths in areas frequented by Soviet subs. U.S. planes, destroyers and hunter-killer subs also use sonar devices to trace Soviet subs. Through such systems, the U.S. Navy is able to track

Soviet subs with uncanny accuracy throughout most of the world’s waters.

Sub Hunting. A sonar operator needs a highly trained ear to sort out the sounds of the sea. Apart from a sub’s noises, the sea is full of other sounds, a syncopated symphony of crackling shrimp, clucking sea robins and grunting whales; there is even the engine-like throb of an unknown sea animal that Navymen call the “130-r.p.h. fish.” Once the various sounds have been sorted out, the American sub hunters flash the details of the sub’s signature to a Navy base in the U.S., where a computer has memorized the signatures of the vast majority of the Soviet submarines. Within seconds, the computer flashes back the name and description of the sub.

On some occasions, the U.S. hunters pounce on the Soviet sub in what the Navy euphemistically calls “informal exercises.” The object of the chase is to give the Soviet submarines a healthy respect for the capabilities of the U.S. Navy’s ASW (Antisubmarine Warfare) forces. In a duel reminiscent of the fictional shoot-out in The Bedford Incident, a U.S. destroyer locks on the enemy boat and tracks his every move. Sometimes, to impress on the Soviets the futility of their plight, an American skipper will play The Volga Boatmen over and over again on his destroyer’s underwater sound system until the ears of the Russian sonar operator are numbed by the noise and the Soviet sub is finally forced to surface.

The Russians lag well behind the U.S. in submarine warfare. One reason is that their ships are slower (about 25 knots submerged), make more noise and cannot dive so deeply as U.S. subs, and are thus easier to detect. But the Soviets are continually trying to improve. They are using their big hydrographic fleet to learn more about the sea environment and to find hiding places in the canyons of the ocean for future gen erations of deep-diving submarines. The U.S. Navy tries to keep up with even the most minor changes in the development and deployment of Soviet subs. One reason that Pueblo was cruising off Wonsan was to check on a report that, because of ice in Vladivostok, the Soviets had temporarily switched their Pacific sub base to Wonsan and the nearby island of Mayang-Do. The U.S. is also equipping its nuclear submarines with silent pumps and heat-dispersal systems so that the Soviets will not be able to use infra-red detection systems to locate the scars of American subs.

Soviet Sixth Fleet. One reason the Soviets watch the U.S. Navy so closely is that they learn so much from it. As perceptive students of naval warfare, Gorshkov and his admirals were impressed with the performance of the U.S. Navy in World War II. When they began to build their own navy, they consciously patterned much of it on the successful American model. Soviet admirals even refer to their new Mediterranean flotilla as “our Sixth Fleet.”

The Soviets have a long way to go before they catch up with their American teachers. They lag far behind in perhaps the most important aspect of all: combat experience. Many Western experts refuse to rate the Soviet navy as a truly efficient seapower until its untested officers have been called upon to handle their complicated modern weaponry under combat conditions. Nor have the Russians yet mastered the sophisticated technique of refueling and replenishing their ships while under way, as U.S. ships do. Thus, they must spend great amounts of time in sheltered anchorages where they would be easy targets in time of war. Because their navy has no large attack carriers, Soviet warships lack air coverage when they venture away from their own shores, even though Gorshkov himself has conceded that no fleet can fight successfully on the high seas without air protection.

American Response. Such drawbacks are unlikely to deter the Soviet Union from placing increasing emphasis on seapower. Moscow not only relishes the new global reach that Admiral Gorsh-kov’s navy has finally brought it, but it also views as an ideal opportunity the chance to capitalize on the U.S.’s preoccupation with Viet Nam and Britain’s hasty withdrawal from East of Suez, seeking to impose its own presence where Western influence is diminishing.

The West, and especially the U.S., has no alternative but to accept the Soviet challenge on the seas, because the welfare of the U.S.—and of the entire free world—is so solidly tied to the sea and to the untrammeled flow of trade. It would be a historic error if a nation as powerful as the U.S. allowed a crisis elsewhere, no matter how troublesome, to distract it from its determination to retain the mastery of the sea that Admiral Gorshkov is so anxious to wrest from it.

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