US officials tell Fox News Russian spy ship is back

By Lucas Tomlinson

The Russian spy ship first spotted off the Delaware coast last month is back.

US officials tell Fox News, the Russian spy ship Victor Leonov has returned to waters off the east coast of the United States after a brief stop for fuel and resupply in Havana last week.

The ship has been spotted by US intelligence approximately 20 nautical miles (23 miles) southeast of a US Navy submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia heading north, according to the officials.

The U.S. Navy’s Atlantic fleet of ballistic missile submarines are based in Kings Bay.

The Russian spy ship has remained in international waters, according to officials.

US territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from shore

The Russian spy ship last patrolled off the east coast of the United States two years ago.  The Victor Leonov departed from Russia’s northern fleet based in the Barents Sea near Norway in early January.

At one point last month, the Russian spy ship ventured as far north as 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut, home to another US Navy submarine base. 

In a White House press conference last month, President Donald Trump weighed in on the story first reported by Fox News.

“Hey, the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles offshore right out of the water.  Everyone in this country is going to say, oh, it's so great.  That's not great.  That's not great.  I would love to be able to get along with Russia.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a tweet the day before Trump’s comments that Russia was trying to “expand influence.”

“Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”