Maui News

Navy Comments on “Russian Hydrographic Vessel” Off Hawaiian Islands

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The US Pacific Fleet has confirmed the presence of a “Russian Hydrographic Vessel” operating in waters off of Hawaiʻi. USNI News described the ship as a “surveillance” vessel, while the Honolulu Star Advertiser described the vessel as a “spy ship.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Hydrography is the science that measures and describes the physical features of the navigable portion of the Earth’s surface and adjoining coastal areas. Hydrographic surveyors study these bodies of water to see what the floor looks like.”

Maui Now reached out to the agency and was provided with a statement from Capt. John Gay who said:

“US Pacific Fleet is aware of the Russian vessel operating in international waters in the vicinity of Hawaiʻi, and will continue to track it through the duration of its time here.  Through maritime patrol aircraft, surface ships and joint capabilities, we can closely monitor all vessels in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.”


The US Naval Institute News, which runs the USNI News publication reports: “USNI News understands the vessel is the Russian Navy Vishnya-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship Kareliya (SSV-535).” The publication further reports that “on Friday, open-source intelligence analysts tracked Kareliya operating 13 nautical miles to the west of the island of Kauaʻi – just outside US territorial waters.”

The US Pacific Fleet could not provide further details on the specific identity of the vessel and deferred further questioning concerning defense to the US Missile Defense Agency.

The Soviet Meridian-class intelligence collection ship Kareliya (SSV-535) steaming alongside the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN-39). Texas was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) for a deployment in the Western Pacific from 15 June to 16 December 1988. PC: public domain

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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