Russian intelligence warship Viktor Leonov CCB-175 docked in Havana on Tuesday with a crew of about 200 for a reported three-day stay, one day ahead of the first official diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Cuba.
The ship's presence was not officially announced by Cuba, but U.S. defense officials are “not alarmed.” The ship also made unannounced docks last February and March in Havana.
The U.S. and Cuba are set to have talks this week seeking to normalize relations after more than 50 years of animosity after President Obama recently eased travel restrictions to Cuba.
The Viktor Leonov is part of the Vishnya class, a group of Intelligence collection ships built for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. The ships continue in service with the Russian Navy. These ships are large, purpose-built ships designed for SIGINT and COMINT electronic intelligence via an extensive array of sensors. The data could be transmitted to shore via satellite link antennas housed in two large radomes. The ships are armed with two 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
Some reports claim that Russia signed an agreement with Cuba in 2014 to reopen an old Cold War-era surveillance base located 150 miles from the U.S. mainland.