The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, currently deployed in waters near South Korea, is being shadowed by both a Chinese spy ship and a Russian spy ship, a defense official told Breitbart News.
While U.S. ships “generally” have a Chinese shadow while operating in the region, it is uncommon for them to be shadowed by a Russian ship in that area, one official said.
Both the Chinese ship and Russian ship are intelligence-gathering ships, the official said.
The Chinese ship has been identified as the Dongdiao-class Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI) ship Tianlangxing.
The Russian ship has been identified as the Vishnya-class AGI ship Kurily – the same type of ship that was reportedly patrolling the U.S.’s east coast earlier this year.
The Vishnya-class ships are designed to gather signals intelligence via an extensive array of sensors.
The Chinese ship began shadowing the Vinson as soon as it entered the South China Sea on February 18, but the Russian ship began shadowing it after it headed north near the Sea of Japan, the official said.
The spy ships are staying “at least” a couple of miles away from the Vinson, the official said.
The Vinson is currently exercising with the South Korean navy for the annual Foal Eagle exercise, which North Korea regards as future training for an invasion.
A spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet said regional navies shadowing of the Vinson is “neither surprising nor concerning,” but directed questions on the Russian ship to Russia.
“The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its escorts are conducting routine exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy in the waters around the Republic of Korea. These exercises strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance and improve regional security,” said Navy Cmdr. Clay Doss.
“It’s neither surprising nor concerning that other regional navies may have an interest in our exercises so long as they operate safely and professionally. For information about the presence and intent of Russian naval vessels, we refer you to the Russian Navy,” he said in a statement to Breitbart News.
The Russian surveillance comes as the Trump administration has spoken of seeking to improve the U.S.-Russia relationship. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly planning to go to Russia in April, according to a report by Reuters.
Russia’s presence in the region also adds to what is already a tense situation.
Earlier this week, North Korea released a video showing a simulated attack on the Vinson as well as a U.S. B-1B Lancer, accompanied by bellicose language. North Korea also recently announced it had tested a new rocket engine. U.S. defense officials told CNN the engine could be used for a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea had launched at least four ballistic missiles in tests earlier this month, which prompted the Trump administration to announce it had begun deploying the first elements of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea, a move opposed by China.
China’s foreign ministry blamed the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises – expected to last until April 30 – for the heightened tensions.
“‘Everyone with his dagger drawn’ would be a fair description,” the Chinese foreign ministry said.