Russian intelligence-gathering ship Viktor Leonov. Photo: AFP/Adalberto Roque

The Tribune News Service reports the US Navy was tracking an alleged Russian spy ship 30 miles off the coast of Virginia on Wednesday in what was termed “an increasingly routine deployment” for the suspected intelligence-gathering vessel.

Unnamed US military officials were quoted as saying that the ship, the Viktor Leonov, recently completed a port visit to Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean Sea. It is reportedly being followed by the Norfolk-based destroyer USS Cole as it travels in international waters along the US East Coast.

The Viktor Leonov is part of Russia’s Northern Fleet and is said to have made similar trips in 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2012.

“This past year, the Viktor Leonov was spotted near Groton, Conn. before heading south along the coast toward the Caribbean. Groton is home to a major submarine base and the ship typically passes by other major Navy bases,” the story said.

US officials also contend that specialized Russian vessels and submarines have stepped up other intelligence activities in the Atlantic Ocean and near the US coastline. It is alleged that such missions concern monitoring or other activities involving the undersea cables that relay internet traffic between the US and Europe.