ST. MARYS — A Russian spy ship off the Georgia coast near Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is no stranger to the region.
The difference this time is the spy ship Victor Leonov apparently wants a closer look at the Navy base, home port for six ballistic missile submarines and two guided missile submarines
During its last visit in 2015, the Vishnya-class spy ship was seen about 300 miles of the Georgia coast.
The Leonov was designed for signals and communications intelligence gathering through an array of ship-borne sensors The ship is capable of intercepting radar, radio and other electronic signals.
It is also equipped with two 30-millimeter guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
During its current visit, the trawler has been spotted in international waters about 20 miles from Kings Bay. The international waters boundary extends 12 nautical miles (13.8 miles) from the U.S. coast.
The vessel made national news last month when it sailed close to Navy bases in Virginia and Connecticut, coming as close as 17 miles away.
Officials at Kings Bay referred all questions to Department of Defense officials in Virginia, who did not return a call for comment.
It’s not the only Russian vessel to patrol the Georgia coast. Spy ships have been seen near Kings Bay since 1988, a year before the first Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Tennessee, arrived.
In September 2015, a 350-foot Russian “research” vessel, Yantar, was seen off the coast of Kings Bay. The ship was believed to be trying to identify undersea communications lines, underwater sensors, submarine training areas and transit lanes to Europe.