Russia has deployed a spy ship to the Caribbean sea, which officials at the Pentagon have previously seen in waters near the United States.
The intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov spent five days at the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, and departed Monday to an unknown destination, according to defense officials.
“We’re monitoring [the ship]. It’s an annual thing,” said one of the officials. “We’ve seen it off Cape Canaveral, Fla., Kings Bay, Ga., Norfolk, Va. and New London, Conn.”
The Navy’s Submarine Group 10 is located in Kings Bay, which is home to 10 nuclear missile submarines and special operations submarine forces. New London is also a major submarine base, while the Navy’s largest East Coast base is located in Norfolk.
A second official identified the Viktor Leonov as an AGI ship — meaning auxiliary, general intelligence, and confirmed that it is being tracked by the Navy. The official also noted that the ship’s movements appear similar to previous Russian operations in the region, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
“What makes it noteworthy is the increase of Russian naval activity worldwide,” the official said. “It makes us pay close attention, not to the tactics, but to how this fits into overall Russian naval behavior.”
Last February, the Leonov was followed after it sailed approximately 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut, then navigated to waters near Norfolk.
During a February 2017 news conference, President Donald Trump commented to reporters who asked about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water.”
The announcement of Leonov’s presence offshore follows confirmation by the Pentagon of Russia’s plans to deploy an unmanned underwater drone equipped with a megaton nuclear warhead.