It’s not unusual to see those in New London, Connecticut, dressed in Navy blues. The town is home to one of the U.S. military’s largest submarine bases on the East Coast, which makes the fact that a Russian spy ship was located less than 30 miles from the base on Wednesday, Feb. 15, even more remarkable.
The Viktor Leonov was spotted just 70 miles away from Delaware on Valentine’s Day. U.S. officials told CNN that the ship is outfitted with “high-tech spying equipment” and is designed to gather intelligence.
“A Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles from the Groton SUBASE underscores that the threats posed by a resurgent Russia are real,” Joe Courtney, ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and congressman for the district including New London, wrote in a prepared statement. “This unacceptable, aggressive action, combined with the buzzing of US Navy ships in the Red Sea yesterday are clearly testing the resolve of a new administration. While I have total confidence in our Navy’s vigilant, responsible readiness, the White House needs to move past their seeming infatuation with Putin and treat him like the serious threat to global peace and security that he has been for the last five years.”
The U.S. Coast Guard has been tracking the position of the Viktor Leonov since it was first spotted.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is aware of a Russian Federation-flagged vessel transiting international waters off the East coast of the United States, as we are of all vessels approaching the U.S. The ship has not entered U.S. territorial waters, which extend 12 miles out to sea,” the Coast Guard reports. “We respect freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal state consistent with international law. The Coast Guard continues to coordinate with federal agency partners to monitor maritime contacts operating in the vicinity of U.S. shores.”
U.S. lays claim to waters 12 miles out from the continental shore. The Viktor Leonov has so far kept to international waters in its journey north from Havana, Cuba. No attacks have been launched, but the actions have been condemned by American policymakers.
“They are doing this obviously with aggressive intent to say the least. … This is part of a pattern of what’s going on right now, not just off the East Coast of the U.S., but overseas,” Courtney told the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
Courtney has since been in close touch with Naval authorities, he told the Hartford Courant.
“They are watching it like a hawk,” he said. “At this point there’s not a violation of international waters. Unless that happens you aren’t going to see any aggressive push-back, but it’s something that has us on high alert.”
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.