NAPLES (Jan. 31)
U.S. Admiral Charles Griffin, retiring Commander of the Southern European forces of NATO, warned here today that the Soviet build-up of naval power in the Mediterranean poses a significant threat to Italy, Greece. Turkey and the whole southern flank of the Western alliance and has caused NATO to alter its strategy. Admiral Griffin said that while some of the Soviet’s “protegees” suffered a disastrous military defeat last June, “the ironic fact is that the Soviets emerged from that episode with their power position greatly enhanced and their Arab clients more dependent on them now than ever before.”
Admiral Griffin estimated that the Soviet naval force in the Mediterranean numbers about 25 to 40 surface ships of which over half are of the combat type and the rest of support type. He confirmed that Russia is building helicopter carriers.
Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent whether the Soviet fleet included amphibious forces, the Admiral said that “it is established that amphibious equipment is carried by the Soviet fleet and it can also be assumed that where there is the equipment there are also the troops to use the equipment.”