A Russian spy ship was spotted off Long Island’s coast Wednesday morning, according to Pentagon officials, who noted the ship was in international waters “consistent with international law.”
As first reported by Fox News, the Russian ship SSV-175 Viktor Leonov was spotted in international waters 30 miles south of Groton, Connecticut — home to a U.S. naval submarine base — which would place the ship in the vicinity of Long Island’s East End.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said his office received reports that the ship was spotted just south of Montauk.
Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told Newsday that Pentagon officials “are aware of the vessel’s presence,” but did not respond to follow-up questions about the ship’s current location or destination.
“It has not entered U.S. territorial waters,” Henderson said of the vessel. “We respect freedom of navigation exercised by all nations beyond the territorial sea of a coastal State consistent with international law.”
The ship is equipped with missiles and is built to “intercept communications and collect data” on U.S. Navy operations, Pentagon sources told Fox News, adding that the ship was spotted Tuesday, some 70 miles off Delaware’s coast.
The Russian spy ship’s presence comes amid reports from the Pentagon this week indicating that Russian military planes buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea three times in the same day last week, and have secretly deployed a new cruise missile in violation of a 1987 treaty with the United States.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he spoke to military and intelligence officials who told him the ship posed no immediate danger to U.S. soil.
“It’s very doubtful they’d try to do something . . . it’s just Russia, again, trying to draw attention to itself,” King said in a phone interview.
Intelligence officials believe the vessel will soon head south, back to the Caribbean where it is normally based, King said.
“I think this is the farthest north it’s gone . . . again it’s just Russia trying to be provocative,” King said, adding that all actions by Russian leader Vladimir Putin should “always” be closely monitored and taken seriously.
Zeldin, whose district covers the East End, condemned Russia’s latest action.
“Russia’s increased aggression is a direct threat,” Zeldin said. “ . . . Russia is our adversary, meddling in ways globally that are putting American service members and the security of the free world at risk.”
The White House press office did not return an email seeking comment.