Russian Pacific Fleet task force heads to Mariana Islands

A Russian Pacific Fleet task force led by the missile cruiser Varyag has completed its courtesy visit to the Japanese port of Maizuru and set sail for U.S. Mariana Islands, the fleet spokesman said on Saturday.

The task force, which also includes the Irkut tanker and a salvage tugboat, will take part in the Pacific Eagle-2011 exercise with the U.S. Navy, Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov said.

After that, the ships will pay a friendly visit to the port of Vancouver in Canada. The task force is expected to return home in the beginning of December.

The Varyag is a Slava class missile cruiser, designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. The sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure, giving the ship a distinctive appearance.

NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class “the killer of aircraft carriers,” as they can launch 1,000 kg of high-explosives or a tactical nuclear warhead to a range of 300 miles.

A task force led by Varyag, the flagship of the Pacific Fleet, paid a friendly visit to the United States in June last year.

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