WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard and military commands tasked with protecting North America are tracking a Russian spy ship that has ranged from North Carolina to Florida over the past few days, spokespeople for the services said Tuesday.
The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) keep close tabs on “vessels of interest, including foreign military naval vessels,” said spokeswoman Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze.
“We are aware of Russia's naval activities, including the deployment of intelligence collection ships in the region,” Kunze said. “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."
The Coast Guard has issued a marine safety bulletin about the ship, which has been operating in an unsafe manner, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Dickinson, a Coast Guard spokesman based in Jacksonville, Florida. The ship has been traveling south over the last few days off the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.
The notice was issued to warn vessels in the region that the spy ship could be sailing without running lights or failing to respond to radio calls. The ship has been identified as the Viktor Leonov, a Russian navy surveillance vessel.
The Pentagon operates several bases on or near the Southeast Coast, including facilities in Jacksonville.
Over the last several years, the Russian military has buzzed U.S. warships with warplanes and exercised other provocative behavior that the Pentagon has branded unsafe and unprofessional.
In June, a Russian navy ship nearly collided with the USS Chancellorsville in the East China Sea, a near miss that U.S. naval officials blamed on Russia. Russian officials blamed sailors aboard the Chancellorsville.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Russian spy ship sailing in "unsafe manner" off southeastern U.S. coast