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London Naval Correspondent Sees Soviet Naval Force Remaining Constant or Increasing

The London Times’ naval correspondent today reported on the strength of Soviet naval forces presently deployed in the Mediterranean and said that it is likely to remain constant or even increased, although in the past the Russians have reduced the size of their fleet in the winter.

According to the Times, the Soviet Mediterranean fleet numbers over 44 warships compared to only a dozen or so in the spring of 1967. The writer said its principal function appears to be to counter the United States Sixth Fleet and maintain surveillance of Western shipping. The most advanced unit is the new aircraft carrier Moskva which carries helicopters. There are a dozen submarines, some of which carry guided missiles, a cruiser, 10 destroyers, three landing ships, two intelligence-gathering vessels and 15 fleet auxiliaries, the correspondent reported.