US Coast Guard Says Russian Spy Ship Sailing Off East Coast

Ship last reported near Bahamas, is being followed by a US destroyer

The US Coast Guard has issued a warning to boaters off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia to watch out for an “unsafe” Russian spy ship that has been operating off of the US coast.

The Russian ship, the Viktor Leonov, is avoiding direct contact with any ships, and was operating near a US submarine base. The Coast Guard urged US boaters to report any “erratic” moves it makes.

The most recent reports were that the Viktor Leonov was near the Bahamas, and the destroyer USS Mahan is reported to be shadowing the ship. The proximity of spy ships to the coast are often used by officials to dial up rhetoric, with Trump threatening in 2017 to shoot a Russian ship out of the water, though he ultimately never attempted to do so.

The US has not indicated how any of this is “in an unsafe manner,” though the ship apparently turned off its locator when it started operating near the US coast, which is not unusual for a surveillance ship in a rival nation’s waters.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.