A Russian Navy ship, likely the Vishnya-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship Kareliya (SSV-535), is reportedly operating off Hawai, just outside U.S. territorial waters “quietly.”
“U.S. Pacific Fleet is aware of the Russian vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hawaii and will continue to track it through the duration of its time here,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. John Gay said in a statement to USNI News. “Through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships and joint capabilities, we can closely monitor all vessels in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.”
The ship has not been broadcasting an automatic identification system (AIS) signal, officials revealed.
Although the U.S. Pacific Fleet did not reveal which Russian ship was lurking in the waters close to Hawai, USNI speculates it to be Vladivostok-based Kareliya (SSV-535). It is one of seven Russian Navy AGIs specializing in signals intelligence – intercepting and deciphering an adversary’s transmissions.
On Friday, open-source intelligence analysts tracked Kareliya operating 13 nautical miles to the west of the island of Kauai – just outside U.S. territorial waters.
Kareliya was originally commissioned in 1986 but was placed in a preservation status in the early 2000s. In 2014, the Russian Navy took the ship out of mothballs for a three-year repair and upgrade period, returning it to the fleet in 2017, according to local television station Vestiprim.
Signals intelligence operations are common practice among rival and allied navies. Chinese and Russian ships routinely monitor U.S. exercises. Likewise, U.S. signals intelligence aircraft and ships routinely operate off the coasts of China and Russia conducting similar operations.