Russian Spy Ship Patrols off Hawaii


This image made from a video provided by the U.S. Coast Guard District 14 Hawaii Pacific and dated January 2023 shows a Russian ship patrolling off the coast of Hawaii. | Image by U.S. Coast Guard, AP

The U.S. Coast Guard said officials have been watching a suspected Russian espionage ship off the coast of Hawaii for weeks.

“So far, we have not witnessed any aggressive postures, or any movements that are outside the norms of international maritime norms, international law,” said Coast Guard Chief Commander Dave Milne.

The Coast Guard said it is keeping an eye on the ship and sharing new information with the Department of Defense to “properly meet presence with presence to encourage international maritime norms.” Foreign military ships are allowed to pass through American waters, but tensions have grown between the U.S. and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

“They would have an array of antennae and everything else up there that they’d be listening to our communications, civilian and military,” said Hal Kemper, a retired U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. He stated that while U.S. military installations are obvious targets for spies, the Russians are most likely pinging signals off underwater fiber optic cables.

“The Russians have a history of doing this,” Kemper told KHON2 News.

That being said, the Coast Guard says this is not something that happens regularly. The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command has investigated the Russian ship off the coast of Hawaii, believing it to be a vessel trying to collect information and data. They also released a video of the vessel as it passed through the waters off Hawaii on January 11.

Milne, who oversees the Coast Guard’s external affairs, said that “all vessels in the Pacific area are tracked using surface and air assets and joint agency capabilities.”

Homeland Security recently fought off a “significant breach” with a company’s servers and underwater cables. Had the perpetrators been successful, many on the islands would have been without cell service and Wi-Fi.

A total of 12 nautical miles separates the coast of Hawaii from international waters. The Russian ship is in an area called the “U.S. Economic Exclusive Zone,” which is within 200 nautical miles of Hawaii.

International law says that foreign military ships can go wherever they want through the U.S. economic exclusive zone. However, foreign-flagged military ships have been seen hanging out and operating in the Coast Guard District 14 area of response, according to KHON2.

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