Russian spy ship seen patrolling off Connecticut coast

FILE - Russian warship Viktor Leonov enters the bay in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
FILE - Russian warship Viktor Leonov enters the bay in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

GROTON, CT (WTNH/AP) — A U.S. defense official said Tuesday that a Russian intelligence-collection ship has been operating off the U.S. east coast, in international waters.

The official was not authorized to discuss an intelligence matter and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to ABC News, the Russian intelligence gathering ship, named The Viktor Leonov, was seen patrolling in waters 30 miles south of the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. The ship appears to be making its way up the east coast as Monday it was spotted 70 miles off the coast of Delaware.

U.S. officials said that the ship was likely headed to that location near Connecticut in international waters where it could be close to the sub base, according to ABC News. The U.S. territorial waters extend 12 miles from shore to the vessel.

Officials say the “loitering” ship is equipped with communications and signal intelligence gathering equipment.

The ship had made a port call in Cuba prior to moving north, where it has been monitored off the coast of Delaware, the official told the Associated Press.

Congressman Joe Courtney released the following statement in regards to the spy ship:

“A Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles from the Groton SUBASE underscores that the threats posed by a resurgent Russia are real,” said Courtney. “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.”

Senator Chris Murphy also released a statement on the Russian ship:

“While this is not wholly unprecedented, it’s part of a series of aggressive actions by Russia that threaten U.S. national security and the security of our allies. Just yesterday, news broke that Russia violated an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Coupled with escalating fighting in eastern Ukraine and Russian jets buzzing a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea, Putin clearly thinks the Trump administration has given him a permission slip to flex his muscles. President Trump and his administration must end their silence and immediately respond to these threats to our national security.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal commented on the presence of ship, as well, in this statement:

“The presence of this spy ship has to be regarded very seriously because Russia is an increasingly aggressive adversary. It reflects a clear need to harden our defenses against electronic surveillance and cyber espionage. I am personally monitoring this situation and remain in close contact with both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard. The return of a Russian vessel is particularly concerning in the context of escalating Russian aggression – within days of the Russian’s buzzing a U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea, as well as deploying a cruise missile in violation of our arms control treaty – which only underscores the need for an independent investigation into possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russian agents.”

Additionally, Connecticut representative Rosa DeLauro tweeted about the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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