Russian Spy Ship Spotted 100 Miles Off NC Coast

Russian espionage became an up-close reality this week in the Tar Heel state after a Russian spy ship was spotted about 100 miles off the North Carolina coast. The ship, named the Viktor Leonov, is equipped with spy gear aimed at intercepting communications signals and was seen in international waters about 100 miles southeast of Wilmington, according to a CNN report.

Military officials told CNN that the spy ship, which is believed to be on a four-to-six month deployment and routinely floats a route up the U.S. coastline, is being tracked by U.S. naval assets including the USS Cole destroyer.

According to the News and Observer, the spy ship was last in the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago on Jan. 15. While the spy ship’s course is unknown, it has traveled up the east coast on previous floats, from Cape Canaveral, Florida to New London, Connecticut, CNN said.

The same ship was responsible for concern in New England in February 2017, when it was spotted about 30 miles south of the Navy submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, about 15 miles from Rhode Island. The close encounter was blasted by members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation as a threat to national security.

“Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said on this Twitter page at the time. “Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

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Photo: Russian warship Viktor Leonov enters the bay in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The Russian warship, one of the fleet’s Vishnya-class ships generally used for intelligence gathering, was docked in the harbor Tuesday, coinciding with a visit to Cuba by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

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