Coast Guard: Russian spy ship operating in ‘unsafe’ manner south of Wilmington

Around the South

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WBTW) – A Russian spy ship is operating unsafely off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, according to an advisory bulletin issued by the US Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard broadcast the “Marine Safety Information Bulletin” to alert mariners in the area to the Russian ship’s presence and its behavior about 100 miles southeast of Wilmington on Sunday.

“The United States Coast Guard has received reports indicating that the RFN Viktor Leonov has been operating in an unsafe manner off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia,” read the notice from the Coast Guard in Charleston.

The ship was operating in international waters and not using running lights while in reduced visibility conditions, the Coast Guard reported. Also, the ship was not responding to hails by commercial vessels attempting to coordinate safe passage. The ship was engaged in other erratic movements not detailed in the report.

The notice went on to advise mariners to, “maintain a sharp lookout and use extreme caution when navigating in proximity to this vessel.”

Increased Navy presence

The Russian Navy has had a long history of sending surveillance ships to monitor U.S. naval bases of the east coast, including Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and the nuclear submarine base at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. Leonov was reported off Kings Bay in 2018.

“We are aware of Russia’s naval activities, including the deployment of intelligence collection ships in the region,” a U.S. Northern Command spokesperson told The Washington Times. “While we won’t discuss specific measures being taken, NORAD and USNORTHCOM routinely conduct air and maritime operations to ensure the defense of the United States and Canada.”

CNN reported Leonov was being shadowed by Norfolk-based U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72).

On Sunday, U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Ross was shadowed by Russian corvette Vyshny Volochyok while the U.S. ship was operating off the coast of Romania in the Black Sea.

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