These include an intelligence ship (CCB201), an anti-submarine cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate, amphibious warfare ships, a tanker, and some rescue tugs.
According to the AFP/Yahoo article, an anti-submarine ship and a rocket cruiser will be heading there soon. Not sure what the anti-sub ship is, but the rocket cruiser is the Slava class Moskva, which is a pretty capable surface combatant (for one thing Syria just 'received' 64 S-300 missiles, since that is the Moskva's main anti-air component). Another report states that the Varyag, another Slava class cruiser, is in the area or soon to be. That is another 64 S-300s.
Now, I do not expect anything to happen. Neither country really wants to engage each other. The only chance of problems is a mistake. Say the Moskva uses its tracking radar to keep tabs of inbound F/A-18s, and one of the F/A-18s believes it is under attack and launches a weapon at the Moskva. Or the inverse ...the Moskva sees F/A-18s and some idiot thinks they are attacking it and launches a missile at the Super Hornets. Don't think it can happen? Ask the crew of the USS Vicentes how Flight IR655 was shot down, or ask the Russians about KAL 007. Mistakes can happen.
I am particularly thinking of a ‘mistake’ that may arise when some overzealous radar operator in the Moskva or Varyag decides to switch from the scan/track radar to the fire control/engagement radar, just to ‘scare’ the F/A-18s. To the Hornet pilots they just got lit up and a missile may be heading their way, and although I am sure the ROE will be very strict not to engage, one may decide not to take the risk. I don’t think they will be carrying any anti-ship missiles, but I have always wondered how a HARM missile would respond to a ship-based radar. ....
Thanks, the Moskva is one of their more capable ships and one that is used on long range, extended deployments. A lot of the Black Sea fleet is a ghost fleet, but this is a ship in better repair.
...is actually the former Soviet Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier that was purchased in 1998 by China, towed from Sevastopol to the Dalian shipyard and rebuilt into the aircraft carrier Liaoning, finally deployed with the PLAN in September 2012. This lack of fact checking makes the rest of the "report" suspect.