According to the local press in Brazil, the Brazilian Navy has been monitoring a Russian research and intelligence ship for a week which is suspected of spying in Europe and the United States. On the 10th February, the Integrated Maritime Safety Center in Rio de Janeiro detected the Yantar, a vessel with advanced sensor technology, within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Brazil. Soon after the first contact, the ship disappeared, probably the AIS equipment, which allows its location, has been turned off.
After losing contact a patrol activity in order to detect the ship was immediately launched. Late on 16th February, a Navy helicopter and an aircraft from Brazilian Air Force found the vessel 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Rio’s beaches. At the first contact, the Russian crew did not answer calls. Then he gave an evasive answers to the questions about the work intention of the ship. During the Brazilian assets were trying to learn ship’s intention, she was already close to the coast of Rio de Janeiro, in an area of undersea internet cables, docking on the night of the 18th at the port of Rio, where it should stay until the weekend.
An official from the Brazilian armed forces consulted by the state said that disengaging the identification system could be because of spying attempts or unusual procedures by the ship. For him, sailing from Yantar to the Brazilian coast was not illegal, but its “disappearance” for six days was considered strange. What most intrigued the nautical authorities was the fact that the vessel, which came from Uruguay, “reappeared” near the submarine communication cables that connect Brazil to other countries, after staying for almost a week with its identification device turned off.
The Russian embassy in Brazil did not comment on the presence of the Yantar in Brazilian waters. The Brazilian Navy, for its part, informed that it does not raise suspicions. He also said that, as responsible for maritime traffic control, he adopts procedures foreseen in international navigation standards to be complied with by maritime authorities.
The ship irritates governments : Yantar
With high-tech sensors to track the seabed, the oceanographic ship Yantar has always been in the sights of governments. The vessel has been in operation for five years. Since its launch, Russia has repeatedly said that the 5,700-ton, 108-meter vessel has been active in scientific research and in helping other countries.
Between December 2017 and April 2018, the Yantar searched the submarine ARA San Juan, which disappeared off the Argentine coast. Then, in June, as it passed through the English Channel, the vessel was preventively escorted by the United Kingdom Air Force and treated as a “spy ship” by the London press. In November 2019, it caused suspicion by turning off the radar in the Caribbean Sea and the U.S. coast. American officials have raised the suspicion that the small submarines carried by the Yantar operate especially in tracking submarine cable areas.
Source : Defence Aérea&Naval
Adaptation : Dorian Archus