Opinion

Russian Spy Ship Off Hawaii – US Coast Guard

Russian spy ships have often cruised in international waters off the coast of Hawaii, and this time is no exception. The US Coast Guard spotted what appeared to be a Russian intelligence gathering ship off the coast of Hawaii in recent weeks. They are monitoring it.

Screenshot of Russian intelligence-gathering ship via US Coast Guard

Why Hawaii? Because Hawaii is home to “Barking Sands,” the US Pacific Missile Range Test Facility on Kauai (PMRF).  In September of 2021, the largest missile ever launched from that site garnered Russian interest as well. In June of 2021, an Aegis missile launch from that facility failed. It was postponed because of the presence of a Russian “intelligence-gathering ship.” A test of a hypersonic missile supposedly failed in June of 2022, according to the Russian News media RT. Now another Russian ship is cruising around the area again.

According to The Southern Maryland Chronicle, divers recently completed a month long “sustainment” and inspection operation for the facility. The operation checked undersea tracking systems and cables for the PMRF test facility.

“Members of the Naval Aviation Training Systems and Ranges program office (PMA-205), Army and civilian divers at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) recently completed a month-long inspection and sustainment operation on critical pieces of undersea infrastructure in Kauai, Hawaii…

At PMRF, cable conduits run offshore from the beach to various points on the range. The cables connect more than 1,000 square miles of sea floor, and are instrumented with hydrophones and underwater communication devices to an onshore range operations center, allowing range participants to be tracked in real time from the surface to the sea floor. 

Weather and swell induced damage to cables at PMRF can be severe, with swell heights reaching 25 feet or more during storm seasons. Damage to the cables can include abrasion, corrosion and sand scouring, requiring continual preventative maintenance and repair to keep the range operational.  

“In recent years, repairs to underwater cables in diver depths at ranges in southern California cost the Navy more than $10 million. The Navy plans to prevent this from happening at PMRF through aggressive and continual preventive maintenance measures,” said Mike Dick, a civilian engineer diver from PMRF Underwater Tracking Systems.” The Southern Maryland Chronicle Jan 18, 2023

What sounds like an innocuous- even routine- operation to us, may be something quite different for the Russians. They may be “fishing” for information…because that’s what “intelligence gathering” entails.

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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. She has been writing at Conservative Firing Line since 2013 as well. She is also a published author.

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