Report: Russian spy ship ‘loitering’ off coast of Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/AP) — The Russian spy ship Victor Leonov is currently “loitering” off the coast of Norfolk Friday, according to a report by Fox News.

Norfolk is home to Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world.

Two U.S. officials tell Fox News that the Russian spy ship was patrolling only 17 nautical miles — or about 19 miles — from land as of Friday morning.

United States territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles from shore.

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The report says the Victor Leonov is armed with “an array of intelligence gathering equipment used to intercept communications and analyze U.S. Navy sonar capability.”

Congressmen from Connecticut have expressed concern over reports of the ship traveling near the coast.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney issued statements Wednesday condemning what they described as Russia’s increasing aggression.

A U.S. defense official said Tuesday the Russian ship has been operating in international waters off the U.S. East Coast. The official said it made a port call in Cuba previously and was monitored off Delaware’s coast.

Courtney said the vessel was later spotted about 30 miles from the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut.

The U.S. Navy conducts similar intelligence-gathering operations against Russian military targets, such as its submarine bases, from international waters.

While addressing reporter questions during a news conference Thursday, President Donald Trump said the “greatest thing” he could do was “shoot” a Russian spy ship lingering off the East Coast.

“So when you ask me what am I going to do with a ship, the Russian ship as an example, I’m not going to tell you. But hopefully, I won’t have to do anything, but I’m not going to tell you,” a line from the transcript of Trump’s news conference Thursday at the White House reads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.