Russian spy ship displaying “unsafe” behavior off U.S. coast

A Russian spy ship was spotted operating in an “unsafe” manner on Tuesday off the southeast coast of the United States, according to the Jacksonville, Florida, branch of the U.S. Coast Guard. The USCG said it has received reports from commercial ships over the past few days alerting it about the Russian ship’s behavior.

The USCG said it received reports the RFN Viktor Leonov was “not energizing running lights while in reduced visibility conditions, not responding to hails by commercial vessels attempting to coordinate safe passage and other erratic movements,” according to a statement from Captain Mark R. Vlaun.

“Vessels transiting these waters should maintain a sharp lookout and use extreme caution when navigating in proximity to this vessel,” Vlaun said.

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The spy ship was east of Great Abaco in the Bahamas as of Tuesday morning, presumably headed back to Russia, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported. Between Sunday and Tuesday it sailed south from South Carolina past Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida, where there are several military bases.

A similar incident occurred in February 2017 off the coast of Connecticut. A Russian vessel known as an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence), was patrolling the waters 30 miles from Groton, Connecticut. Groton is the home of Naval Submarine Base New London, which the Navy describes as the “Home of the Submarine Force.”

The RFN Viktor Leonov is also an AGI, according to the USCG.

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