Russian spy ship is in English Channel

Russian spy ship is in English Channel: Naval intelligence vessel that can ‘cut undersea internet cables’ sails through shipping lane near British coast

  • Yantar can be seen on tracker Marine Traffic midway between Devon and France 
  • It is a specialist reconnaissance ship which carries two unmanned submersibles
  • Known for operating near undersea infrastructure including Internet cables

A Russian spy ship built to carry out clandestine undersea missions was spotted in the English Channel today. 

Yantar could be seen on online service Marine Traffic midway between the coast of Devon and France just before midday. It is currently heading north. 

Yantar is a specialist reconnaissance ship that carries two unmanned submersibles that are able to descend to the sea bed and take images, as well as collect items. 

Rossiya, a Russian state TV network, has claimed the ship is able to cut Internet cables and jam underwater sensors. MailOnline has contacted the MoD for comment.   

Yantar can be seen on online service Marine Traffic midway between the coast of Devon and France and is currently heading north

Yantar is a specialist reconnaissance ship which carries two unmanned submersible vehicles

Yantar is a specialist reconnaissance ship which carries two unmanned submersible vehicles

The ship was first spotted today by defence analyst H. Sutton. 

Yantar was recently seen near cables off the coast of Ireland, and its movements have previously raised eyebrows. 

On October 18, 2016, a Syrian telecom company ordered emergency maintenance to repair a cable in the Mediterranean that provides internet connectivity to several countries, including Syria, Libya and Lebanon.

The Yantar arrived in the area the day before the four-day maintenance began. It left two days before the maintenance ended. It’s unknown what work it did while there.

In another episode on November 5, 2016, a submarine cable linking Persian Gulf nations experienced outages in Iran. Hours later, the Yantar left Oman and headed to an area about 60 miles west of the Iranian port city of Bushehr, where the cable runs ashore.

Connectivity was restored just hours before the Yantar arrived on Nov ember 9. The boat stayed stationary over the site for several more days.

Undersea cables have been targets for military actions before.

At the beginning of World War I, Britain cut a handful of German underwater communications cables and tapped the rerouted traffic for intelligence. In the Cold War, the U.S. Navy sent American divers deep into the Sea of Okhotsk off the Russian coast to install a device to record Soviet communications, hoping to learn more about the USSR’s submarine-launched nuclear capability.

More recently, British and American intelligence agencies have eavesdropped on fiber optic cables, according to documents released by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor.

In 2007, Vietnamese authorities confiscated ships carrying miles of fiber optic cable that thieves salvaged from the sea for profit.

The heist disrupted service for several months. And in 2013, Egyptian officials arrested three scuba divers off Alexandria for attempting to cut a cable stretching from France to Singapore.

Five years on, questions remain about the attack on a cable responsible for about a third of all internet traffic between Egypt and Europe.

Despite the relatively few publicly known incidents of sabotage, most outages are due to accidents.

Two hundred or so cable-related outages take place each year. Most occur when ship anchors snap cables or commercial fishing equipment snags the lines. Others break during tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters.  


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