Cold War Alert! Russian Subs Patrolling the Seas Around South Beach

New York Times this morning and had a serious 1962 flashback.

The Times reports today that two Akula-class Russian nuclear submarines are patrolling international waters just off the East Coast. Defense Department sources told the Times that one sub remains about 200 miles off the coast somewhere, and that the other "traveled south in recent days toward Cuba."

In other words, you might want to watch your back if you're fishing international waters outside Miami -- there might just be a sub full of bearded Ruskies lookin' for a fight.

Riptide reached Lt. Desmond James, a spokesman for NORAD, who confirmed that the agency is tracking the subs off the U.S. coast. James declined to comment on the subs exact location, and sent Riptide this statement:

"NORAD and US Northern Command are aware of Russian submarine activity off the East coast operating in international waters. We have been monitoring them during transit and recognize the right of all nations to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters according to international law."

During the Cold War, Russian subs used to hang out off the U.S. coast all the time -- just as U.S. subs patrolled the waters around the Soviet Union. But the Cold War ended a few years back, if you hadn't heard, and this is the first time in 15 years or so that the Russian Navy has decided to pay a visit to our shores.

No one is quite sure why. A few sources in the Times' story speculate the Russian Navy may be trying to deflect notice from a series of embarrassingly bad missile tests. A Russian official who spoke to the Washington Post tried to play the thing off as no big deal:

"I don't know if there is any news in this news for anyone," Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, told the Post. "The fleet shouldn't sit on its hands and be idle."

Hey, the Russian Navy is just bored! Right. Here at Riptide, we're already practicing our D-Day drills.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink