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Bears Prowling Around Kings Bay
By Harold Hutchison

Vishnya-class AGI
(U.S. Navt photo)

A Russian Navy intelligence-gathering vessel has been prowling around the United States Navy base at Kings Bay, Georgia. The vessel, operating in conjunction with a tug boat, has been off the base for the base used by Ohio-class ballistic and cruise missile submarines for about a month.

According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the Viktor Leonov, a Vishnya-class intelligence vessel specializing in the signals intelligence and communications intelligence missions, has also been operating off the naval base at Mayport, Florida. The vessel was built in Gdansk, Poland during the last years of the Cold War, and is armed with two AK-630 close-in-weapon systems and two quad launchers for 9K38 “Igla” surface to air missile, better known as the SA-16 Gimlet or SA-N-10 Grouse.

The Russian vessel’s mission may have been tied to an exercise by the Strategic Rocket Forces. The 3800-ton vessel was originally based with the Black Sea Fleet before it was transferred to the Northern Fleet. It entered service in 1988, and was called the Odograf until April 2004.

USS Texas alongside a Vishnya-class AGI
(U.S. Navy photo)

In 2012, an Akula-class submarine with the Russian Navy operated in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, with conflicting claims about whether the submarine was detected.