Florida

Russian spy ship spotted southeast of Navy installation in Florida

Lucas Tomlinson provides latest update

 

A Russian spy ship spotted "loitering" off Virginia last month has traveled south and was seen Thursday about 150 miles off Florida heading toward the Caribbean, U.S. officials told Fox News.

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The Viktor Leonov was southeast of U.S. Naval Station Mayport, the officials said.

In the past, whenever the ship sailed close to Florida, U.S. Navy aircraft would fly from Jacksonville to take a look. Officials said to expect the same response this time around.

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United States territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from shore.

Fox News was first to report the sighting of the Russian spy ship off the coast of Delaware in mid-February. When the ship "loitered" near Norfolk, Va., it was about 19 miles from land, U.S. officials said.

The Victor Leonov was armed with an array of intelligence gathering equipment used to intercept communications and analyze U.S. Navy sonar capability. "It’s lawful [and] similar to operations we do around the world," Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters last month.

The Russian spy ship left its homeport in the Barents Sea near Norway, part of Russia’s northern fleet, around New Year’s Day, according to American defense officials. Following a port call in Jamaica, the Russian ship then began its voyage north along the east coast of the United States before turning south.

The ship was spotted in Havana Harbor in January 2015 as the Obama administration eased relations with Cuba.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews