• Yantar remained there for a day before heading southwest 
  • The Irish Navy was aware of the ship's presence in the area
  • Ship earlier changed course along the Celtic Norse undersea cable

A 350-ft Russian spy ship was spotted off the coast of Ireland Tuesday, near the two trans-Atlantic undersea internet cables. The Irish Navy was aware of the ship's presence, said an Irish Defence Forces spokesperson.

The vessel, Yantar, took up a stationary position between two undersea internet cables Tuesday, remaining there for most of Wednesday before heading southwest, Naval News reported based on the AIS (automated identification system) positions collected by

According to the Irish Defence Forces, the "Irish Naval Service is aware of the Russian ship Yantar transiting in the Irish exclusive economic zone off the west of Ireland."

"This ship is transmitting on the Automatic Identification System and is outside Irish territorial waters. This activity is in line with the UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules for transit through international waters. Territorial waters are 12 nautical miles from the coast of Ireland and under UNCLOS, there is no restriction on ships operating on the high seas inside exclusive economic zones," Irish Times quoted the Irish Defence Forces.

Yantar, equipped with deep-diving submersibles and sonar systems, has been serving in the Russian Navy since 2015. It has earlier been suspected of operating on undersea cables before.

Before stopping near the trans-Atlantic cables, Yantar had altered course to run parallel to the expected route of the Celtic Norse undersea cable, the first submarine fiber optic cable between Norway and Ireland.

Another cable that runs nearby is the AEConnect-1 which runs between Ireland and the United States. According to Naval News, it is possible that there is an additional underwater infrastructure in the vicinity.

Reports add that Yantar is equipped with devices for deep-sea tracking and can attach spy equipment to undersea cables. The vessel also has submersibles and ROVs that can be used for operating on seabed infrastructure such as internet cables.

It is believed that Yantar's tasks include cable cutting, laying of taps on undersea cables, and intelligence missions, added reports.

The ship is said to have left the base of Olenya Guba in the Russian Arctic around August 8. However, it disappeared off AIS between leaving Olenya Guba and arriving off Ireland, but Navy vessels are permitted to do that.

The spy ship, operated by Russia’s secretive Main Directorate of Underwater Research had earlier been spotted conducting operations off Syria, the Persian Gulf, and Americas.

russian spy ship
File picture of another Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov SSV-175, seen docked at the port in Havana. REUTERS