When the Marine Nationale’s latest submarine, Suffren (Q284) conducted its first test dives it grabbed headlines. What went largely unnoticed by the world was that a Russian ship had been loitering in the area. RFS Akademik Pashin (IMO: 9778193) is a Project 23130 replenishment tanker.
The presence of the Russian ship, just east of Cherbourg where the submarine is currently based, was observed by Open Source analysts. Yet the connection to the submarine tests was only made by a local print newspaper, La Manche Libre who published an article in its printed edition on May 2.
The Russian ship did not go unnoticed to the Navy however. Akademik Pashin was monitored by French and then British warships. The Royal Navy reported on April 30 that the Offshore patrol Vessel HMS Mersey had shadowed the ship, along with the Steregushchiy-class corvette RFS Boiky.