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US tracks Russian spy ship operating off Hawaii for weeks

Russian spy ship off Hawaii
Photo: Screengrab

A Russian intelligence gathering ship has spent the past several weeks off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands under the watchful eye of the US Coast Guard.

The service revealed the ship’s presence in the region, alongside video footage of it underway.

The ship in question appears to be Russian Navy Project 864 AGI Kareliya, one of seven Vishnya-class intelligence gathering ships (often also referred to as spy ships) currently in service. It is accompanied by Dubna-class tanker Pechenga, according to the video footage.

While foreign military vessels may transit freely through the US economic exclusive zone (EEZ), as per customary international laws, foreign-flagged military vessels have often been observed operating and loitering within Coast Guard District Fourteen’s area of response.

Other ships in the class have also been observed operating off the US coast in recent years, including Viktor Leonov’s operations 30 miles off Connecticut in 2017 and off the coast of Delaware in 2014 and 2015. In 2019, the same ship was observed off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia.

The Coast Guard said it continues to coordinate with Department of Defense partners, providing updates to foreign vessel movements and activities and to appropriately meet presence with presence to encourage international maritime norms.

“The US Coast Guard is currently monitoring the Russian vessel operating in the vicinity of Hawaii,” said Cmdr. Dave Milne, chief of External Affairs. “As part of our daily operations, we track all vessels in the Pacific area through surface and air assets and joint agency capabilities. The Coast Guard operates in accordance with international laws of the sea to ensure all nations can do the same without fear or contest. This is especially critical to secure freedom of movement and navigation throughout the Blue Pacific.”