Coast Guard: Russian Surveillance Ship Operating in ‘Unsafe’ Manner off East Coast

December 17, 2019 4:44 AM - Updated: May 25, 2021 6:29 PM
Undated photo of Russian AGI Viktor Leonov.

Russian surveillance ship Viktor Leonov has been operating unsafely off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina in the vicinity of U.S. naval bases, according to a U.S. Coast Guard safety bulletin issued on Sunday.

“The United States Coast Guard has received reports indicating that the RFN Viktor Leonov (AGI-175) has been operating in an unsafe manner off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia,” read the notice from Coast Guard in Charleston, S.C.
“This unsafe operation includes 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.”

The notice went on to advise mariners to, “maintain a sharp lookout and use extreme caution when navigating in proximity to this vessel.”

The Russian Navy has had a long history of sending surveillance ships to monitor U.S. naval bases of the East Coast, including Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Naval Station Mayport, Fla. and the nuclear submarine base at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

Leonov was reported off Kings Bay in 2018.

“We are aware of Russia’s naval activities, including the deployment of intelligence collection ships in the region,” a U.S. Northern Command spokesperson told The Washington Times. “While we won’t discuss specific measures being taken, NORAD and USNORTHCOM routinely conduct air and maritime operations to ensure the defense of the United States and Canada.”

CNN reported Leonov was being shadowed by Norfolk-based U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72).

On Sunday, U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) was shadowed by Russian corvette Vyshny Volochyok while the U.S. ship was operating off the coast of Romania in the Black Sea.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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