A top Senate Republican wants to know how a Russian attack submarine was able to conduct a patrol mission miles off the U.S. coastline without the knowledge of the American military or intelligence officials.
In a letter to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert on Friday, Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) demanded "a detailed explanation of the facts" surrounding the incident in which an Akula-class nuclear attack submarine was able to sail into the Gulf of Mexico undetected.
Two Russian submarines reportedly conducted a handful of separate patrol missions in the Gulf in June and July, according to recent news reports.
“The Akula was built for one reason and one reason only: to kill U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines and their crews,” a U.S. official told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday.
One of the two submarines was able to traverse U.S. coastal waters undetected for nearly a month, according to the official.
If outfitted with a full complement of torpedoes and long-range cruise missiles, the weaponry aboard the Russian Akula-class attack sub made it capable of sinking a number of U.S. nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers that happened to be stationed in the Gulf.
"If these reports are accurate, the repercussions are serious," according to Cornyn.
The incident was the second known time Russian submarines have made their way into U.S. territorial waters. Navy officials were able to detect an Akula-class submarine patrolling off the Eastern Seaboard in 2009.
Once located, Navy officials were able to track the submarine's movements via aerial and underwater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in the area, according to The New York Times.
“We’ve known where they were, and we’re not concerned about our ability to track the subs, we’re concerned just because they are there," a DOD official told the Times at the time of the East Coast incident.