Victor Afinov Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 7, 2001, p. 10

It turned out that the US spied on the Kursk submarine on the eve of its shipwreck.

Circumstances of the tragic shipwreck of the Kursk nuclear submarine near the Kola peninsula in 2000 have shed light on a new kind intelligence activities. The use used this new method for spying after the Kursk during the biggest exercise of the Russian Navy during the past ten years. To be more exact, the US intelligence service spied after the Shkval torpedo with which the K-141 nuclear submarines are armed.

This new kind of intelligence is MASINT (Measurement and Signature INTelligence).

The MASINT operation conducted in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000 was the final chord in a series of diverse measures of the US intelligence service aimed at hunting after the Shkval. (…)

The US justifies the hunt after the Shkval by its intention to prevent the expansion of dangerous military technologies in the world. Washington meant China, it was supposed that a Chinese naval specialist was on board the Kursk nuclear submarine, who allegedly intended to purchase new devices for fighting the US aircraft carriers and submarines. Admiral Clark, Chief of the Staff of the US Navy, passed over very important information based on reports by the acoustic intelligence services gathered during the shipwreck to his Russian counterpart. Sergei Ivanov confirmed this information in New York. He said in an interview with France Press, “Technical reports passed over by the US intelligence service contain the time and geographic coordinates of the second explosion on the Kursk.”

The MASINT operation was conducted by the Loyal (T-AGOS-22) warship, which gathers detailed acoustic data using a grid of hydrophones. Two Los Angeles type submarines, the Toledo SSN-769, and Memphis SSN-691, supported the warship. This was part of the group, which monitored the situation in the Barents Sea.

The MASINT method is aimed at (…) analyzing the object of research no matter how complicated it is. The system uses the whole spectrum of existing sensors, radars, lasers, radio frequencies, geophysical sensors, and more.

It should be noted that physical measurements and signatures of the object are not the main goal of the MASINT method. The system is aimed at using these characteristics for figuring out the purpose, capabilities, and weak points of the object.

The MASINT system is used for gathering data about ballistic missiles. This method makes it possible to figure out missiles’ range, trajectory, the number of stages and the types of their engines, the number and power of warheads, precision, radar and optic signatures in different diapasons, and the presence of communication devices, which make it possible to detect the positions of missiles. The US has spied after the Baikonur space center using the MASINT method for many years.

In the meantime, the most important aspect of this method is the analysis of data gathered by this system.