US Submarine Deployed to Cuba Following Russian Naval Presence

The USS Helena is on a “routine visit” to Guantanamo Bay, Washington has said

The United States Navy sent an attack submarine, the USS Helena, to the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This comes a day after a Russian naval task force, consisting of four ships, arrived in Havana for a long-range expedition.

The USS Helena, a Los Angeles-class submarine, arrived on Thursday for a “routine port visit,” according to the US Southern Command. 

“The vessel’s location and transit were previously planned,” SOUTHCOM stated, adding that the Helena is “conducting its global maritime security and national defense mission.”

The Associated Press described the submarine’s arrival as “a show of force” by Washington, in response to the Russian ships’ presence near US shores.

The Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet task force, led by the missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov and including the Yasen-class nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, along with two support ships, sailed into Havana on Wednesday. This force represents some of Russia’s most modern naval assets.

Moscow described the mission last month as a “long-distance expedition” intended to “show the flag” and “ensure a naval presence in operationally important areas.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented further on the flotilla’s mission, leading to speculation in the US that its presence could be a message about the actions of Washington and its allies in Ukraine.

“Clearly this is them signaling their displeasure about what we’re doing for Ukraine,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said earlier this week, adding that the US had “no indication and no expectation that nuclear weapons will be at play here.”

The Cuban government has stated that the Russian ships were not equipped with nuclear missiles, and that their mission was in accordance with international law.

The Gorshkov and the Kazan conducted long-range sea strikes while en route to Cuba, as several US Navy vessels observed from a distance. 

“We of course take it seriously, but these exercises don’t pose a threat to the US,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters on Wednesday.

The Kazan was commissioned in 2021, while the Gorshkov entered service in 2018. The Helena, on the other hand, was commissioned in 1987.

Just before the Helena was dispatched to Cuba, the US Navy announced that one of its crew members had died the previous month. Sonar Technician Submarine 3rd Class Timothy Sanders’ body was discovered on board the submarine while it was moored at Naval Station Norfolk on May 24. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating the case.