USS Jimmy Carter returns to port on Monday flying a Jolly Roger flag. Photo: US Navy

Asia Unhedged recently noted a story by military website Covert Shores detailing the fact that the Russian Navy has a spy ship called the Yantar. The vessel is suspected of tapping undersea cables and engaging in other deep-sea shenanigans under the cover of being a mothership for Russian research subs.

Well, you don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that Russia isn’t the only nation engaging in such activities. The US media has reported that the USS Jimmy Carter, a Seawolf-class submarine equipped for intelligence missions, returned to its base in Washington State earlier this month flying a Jolly Roger pirate flag beside the American flag.

Hoisting the black flag with skull and crossbones in the US submarine services signals the successful completion of a clandestine mission. It’s a tradition dating back to the Cold War when US subs conducted close-in surveillance against the Soviet Union.

The US Navy’s mum on what the Jimmy Carter was up to. The nuclear sub can carry remotely operated vehicles or ROVs, SEAL teams and reportedly flew a drone over North Korea in 2010.

Could it have been placing or removing taps on undersea cables? It’s a riddle of the deep blue sea…

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