Tags: Russian | Shipping | Spies | U.S. | Subs

Russian Shipping Spies on U.S. Subs

Monday, 06 November 2000 12:00 AM

According to a story in Monday's issue of the Washington Times:

Some Pentagon officials fear that the data obtained could be sold or leaked to international terrorists, such as those who bombed the destroyer USS Cole last month, as Russia continues to spy on United States warships and submarines.

The Times has obtained a copy of a Central Intelligence Agency report, dated July 2000 and stamped "secret," stating that its recent intelligence "provides the first solid evidence of long-suspected Russian merchant ship intelligence collection efforts against U.S. nuclear submarine bases."

The CIA report refutes a flat statement by Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon that there was no evidence the Russian merchant ship Kapitan Man was engaged in intelligence gathering near Seattle in April 1997.

A laser believed to have been fired by a Russian crewman seriously wounded a U.S. intelligence officer and a Canadian pilot as their helicopter flew near the Russian merchant vessel, photographing its antenna configuration as it tracked a U.S. nuclear-missile submarine in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The strait is a major route for U.S. nuclear-missile submarines entering and departing Submarine Group Nine, based in Bremerton, Wash.

The CIA report said another Russian cargo ship, Kapitan Konev, had also been involved in spying on American submarines in that area.

It said the Kapitan Konev had informed Russian intelligence officers in Vladivostok about a "visual contact" with a U.S. submarine transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca on its way to Seattle.

Other intelligence reports obtained by the Times said a Russian national, identified only as "Anatoli Anatolyevich," notified Vladivostok that he had spotted the USS Parche, an attack submarine used in U.S. covert operations.

A National Security Agency report, also obtained by the Times, said a spy on the Kapitan Konev contacted Vladivostok "to report a submerged/sinking ship was headed out to sea" through the strait.

The NSA reported that a second message from the Russian merchant ship contained more detailed data on the Parche and on the movement of other U.S. and Canadian military vessels.

The Kapitan Konev "is among a larger list of special-interest vessels that have engaged in suspicious or anomalous activities on one or more occasions," the NSA report said.

The CIA, in its report, stated that the Kapitan Konev "delayed its departure from Port Angeles, Wash., allowing it to close to approximately 2,000 yards of a departing U.S. ballistic-missile submarine.

"[Russian] ships operating under the control of the Far Eastern Shipping Co., such as the Kapitan Konev, have been involved in numerous incidents in the vicinity of U.S. submarines since 1992, when Seattle and Tacoma ports were opened to Russian merchant ships.

[Shortly before the Kapitan Man incident, Vice President Al Gore met with Russia's then-prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and discussed easing customs controls on Russian ships entering U.S. ports.]

"FESCO presumably relays information on U.S. naval movements to Russia's Pacific Fleet Naval Intelligence Center in Vladivostok."

Although the Clinton-Gore administration insisted at the time that there was no evidence to indicate the Kapitan Man was engaged in spying on U.S. submarines, Pentagon officials have since said privately the incident was covered up to avoid upsetting relations with Russia.

This was confirmed in documents obtained by the Times that "due to the sensitivity of the incident" it was kept secret, even though a U.S. serviceman had been injured in a hostile action.

The Pentagon said its investigation, after U.S. personnel boarded the Kapitan Man and found no laser, could not prove one was fired by someone aboard the merchant ship.

A classified Pentagon intelligence report, produced before the NSA and CIA reports, stated that although Russian Far East merchant and fishing ships "continue to participate in Russian command and control exercises directed by the General Staff and the Navy Main staff" and numerous "anomalous events" support the belief that Russian commercial ships are spying for Moscow, "no evidence that conclusively implicates Russian vessels in intelligence activities in North American waters has been discerned."

Now, one U.S. government official commented, "The CIA found the conclusive evidence."

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According to a story in Monday's issue of the Washington Times: Some Pentagon officials fear that the data obtained could be sold or leaked to international terrorists, such as those who bombed the destroyer USS Cole last month, as Russia continues to spy on United States...
Russian,Shipping,Spies,U.S.,Subs
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2000-00-06
Monday, 06 November 2000 12:00 AM
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