The US Coast Guard says it is tracking a suspected Russian intelligence-gathering ship off the coast of Hawaii in recent weeks, officials said Wednesday.
“In recent weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard has continued to monitor a Russian vessel, believed to be an intelligence gathering ship, off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands,” the USCG said in a news release.
The Coast Guard noted the situation is not unusual but that it is tracking it closely. “While foreign military vessels may transit freely through the U.S. economic exclusive zone (EEZ), as per customary international laws, foreign-flagged military vessels have often been observed operating and loitering within Coast Guard District Fourteen’s area of response,” the release stated.
“As part of our daily operations, we track all vessels in the Pacific area through surface and air assets and joint agency capabilities,” Commander Dave Milne, chief of External Affairs, said in a statement.
Naval warfare journalist and commentator Chris Cavas noted that the Kareliya (SSV-535) of the Project 864 Vishnaya-class AGI is seen in the 11 Jan. Coast Guard video being refueled from a Russian ship via the astern method.
“The ship has often been seen in Hawaiian waters monitoring US movements,” the message added.
Russian intelligence ship KARELIYA SSV535 continues to operate near Hawaii. The Project 864 Vishnaya-class AGI is seen in this 11 Jan US Coast Guard video being refueled from a Russian ship via the astern method. Ship has often been seen in Hawaiian waters monitoring US movements pic.twitter.com/UlM8pTwyeb
— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) January 19, 2023
The Vishnya class (also known as the Meridian class) is a group of intelligence collection ships built for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. The ships continue in service with the Russian Navy. The Soviet designation is Project 864.
The Russian Navy operates seven of these ships. These ships are large, purpose-built ships designed for signals intelligence gathering via an extensive array of sensors.
The data could be transmitted to shore via satellite link antennas housed in two large radomes. The ships are armed with two AK-630 close-in weapon systems and SA-N-8 surface-to-air missile (SAM) launchers, for last resort self-defense.