Russian spy ship now off Virginia coast

Russian spy ship now off Virginia coast

The vessel's presence 30 miles south of a U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut drew international headlines this week even though U.S. officials were not concerned by the ship's operations, which are in international waters.

On Tuesday,the Russian spy ship had positioned itself east of Long Island about 30 miles south of the New London submarine base.

Officials said the vessel was "loitering" in the area, presumably gathering intelligence about U.S. Navy submarine operations, similar to what it did in 2014 and 2015 when it stayed for several weeks at a time close to the other U.S. Navy submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.

But, a U.S. official said the Leonov only spent about 24 hours in the waters off of Connecticut before it began moving south sometime on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the ship was 75 miles northeast of Norfolk.

Throughout its transit up and down the Eastern seaboard this week, the Leonov has remained in international waters, well beyond U.S. territorial waters, which extend 12 miles from shore.

Equipped with communications gathering equipment, the Viktor Leonov is able to track the activity and movements of the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet.

In 2014 and 2015, the Leonov spent weeks in international waters close to the submarine base at Kings Bay. This week's trip to the waters off of Connecticut was the first time the intelligence-gathering ship had visited the area close to the submarine base at New London.

One official speculated the Leonov was not able to gather a good amount of intelligence given the brief amount of time it spent off of Connecticut and the public exposure it's visit received.

The Leonov has been involved in three of the four Russian spy ship visits to the East Coast since 2014, when the Russian Navy resumed a practice that was common throughout the Cold War.