HONOLULU — The United States Coast Guard is monitoring a presumed Russian spy ship off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands amid tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the war in Ukraine.
A U.S. Coast Guard plane, which was on routine patrol earlier this month, spotted the ship in international waters. The sighting was passed up the chain of command, where it was determined that the vessel was a Vishnya-class Kareliya surveillance ship.
The ship has maintained its presence off the Hawaiian Islands for the past few weeks.
“Ever since then, we’ve had an eye on them with our C-130 (aircraft) and other assets in the area,” said U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer Ryan Fisher. “They’re not doing anything illegal or untoward or aggressive. They’re just operating in the area, probably doing their own training as well.”
Fisher said the ship was moving consistently, sometimes traveling close to the Hawai‘i coast. The ship has always remained in international waters, and is not in violation of any laws.
“It’s been anywhere from 100 miles off the coast to, ‘You could see them off the shore with binoculars,’” he said.
Fisher said the specific location of the ship and the day it was spotted could not be divulged.
Russia has a history of posting intelligence ships near Hawai‘i, which is key to U.S. military power in the Pacific.
In May 2021, a U.S. missile defense test off the coast of Kaua‘i was delayed because of the presence of a nearby Russian intelligence vessel. The ship lingered for several days, just 15 miles off the coast of Kaua‘i.
A spokesperson for the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the West Coast of Kaua‘i reported the facility has no involvement in tracking the ship. The Coast Guard response is spearheaded by Air Station Barbers Point.
The ship’s presence comes at a particularly tense point in U.S.-Russian relations, as the Biden administration continues its support of the Ukrainian military against the Russian invasion. Russia launched its offensive in February 2022, but has since encountered stiff Ukrainian resistance amid heavy fighting.
Source: The Garden Island