US Admiral Says Russian Submarine Presence Means East Coast Not ‘Safe’ for Ships

Says US East Coast no longer 'uncontested'

US Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, the head of the Navy’s 2nd Fleet, made comments at the CSIS think tank on Tuesday, reporting that the recent presence of Russian submarines off the US East Coast means that he can no longer consider the coastal area “uncontested.”

Admiral Lewis went on to say that it is no longer the case that the waters off America’s Atlantic Coast could be considered a “safe haven” for US ships or submarines. He added ships are in “contested space once they leave Norfolk” and should no longer expect to cross the Atlantic “unhindered.”

A Russian submarine was reported off the coast of the US late last year, and Russian intelligence ships have at times been in the vicinity. There haven’t been any confrontations, however.

Russia has a fleet of submarines, as a large naval power, but they aren’t exactly swarming around the US East Coast. Moreover, the US is no stranger to leaving its own submarines, and surface warships, looming around the Russian coast and other Russian spheres of influence.

Suggesting those areas are “contested” in anything but the most nominal way is a vast overstating of the situation. Intelligence gathering by both navies is common, and not a direct military challenge.

That Admiral Lewis is vastly overstating the matter is hardly surprising, however, as the 2nd Fleet was established specifically for the Atlantic, and because of Russia’s Navy being there. Lewis’s job is effectively to play up Russia’s threat in his theater of operation, which is literally the only putative challenge faced in the Atlantic.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of