Russian spy ship makes port call in Curacao
WILLEMSTAD - A Russian naval spy ship, tracked by US intelligence assets over the past two months as it sailed the western Atlantic, arrived in Curacao this weekend, where it is expected to take on supplies.
On Sunday, the research ship Yantar sailed into the port of Willemstad, capital of Curacao, after transiting international waters off the southeastern United States. Maritime tracking data showed that it was near Aruba several days ago, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The Yantar is a newly commissioned Russian naval research vessel that is believed to be conducting surveillance operations against US missile submarines based at Kings Bay, Georgia.
Pentagon officials said the vessel was tracked from the north Atlantic on August 24 as it sailed south through international waters along the US east coast.
The ship’s activities in the Atlantic over the past several weeks also coincided with the deployment of the nuclear missile submarine USS Wyoming from Kings Bay to Scotland on September 16.
Russia has been known to deploy vessels similar to the Yantar in support of its attack submarines. It is not known if any Russian attack submarines were in the Atlantic at the same time the Wyoming crossed the ocean on the way to Scotland.
However, defence analysts believe the Yantar is conducting underwater mapping and reconnaissance operations that would support future Russian submarine operations in the Atlantic.
Other underwater activities likely include detecting underwater sensors and other equipment used by the US Navy to track foreign submarine activities.
The ship also can be used to identify key communications links used by the military, known as the Department of Defense Information Network or DoDIN. Russia is believed to be conducting reconnaissance on US communications and information networks in preparation for information-based attacks in any future conflict.
Moscow is reportedly engaged in a major strategic nuclear forces buildup that includes modernizing older submarines, as well as building a new class of missile submarines and a new class of attack submarines.
The Washington Free Beacon disclosed on September 8 that Russia is developing a nuclear-armed drone submarine code-named Kanyon that will be capable of wiping out entire port cities with a large-yield nuclear blast.
The Russian nuclear buildup also comes as Russian leaders in recent months have made threats to use nuclear weapons against NATO in response to increased alliance defences in Eastern Europe.
A Pentagon spokesman said earlier this month that the military was aware of the ship and that “we respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law.”
A senior US intelligence official said on Tuesday that they were aware of the Yantar’s presence in the region but this kind of surveillance had been “going on for years and we are used to it”.
Photo: The Russian research vessel Yantar arrives in Curacao. Photo: Cees Bustraan/Washington Free Beacon