Yesterday morning, a Russian spy ship was observed via satellite in the Sicilian channel. A “Vishnya” class unit was photographed to the north of Tunisia while refueling from the “Vyazma” oil tanker.
The CovertShores website has published an image of the two ships, side by side conducting a fuel transfer. Even there awaits a confirmatory identification, it should be the “Vasiliy Tatishchev”, which NATO has code named “Meridian”.
The news was reported by the Italian newspaper ‘La Repubblica’. It is not the first time that Russian ships have been sighted off the Sicilian coast and in the Mediterranean, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
This maritime intelligence center afloat entered the Mediterranean on January 20, starting its surveillance activity by concentrating in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is 95 meters long, with a displacement of about 3,500 tons and it was launched way back in the days of the USSR but has been since then constantly updated. There are 146 crewmen on board, mostly intelligence-gathering specialists.
The return to the Sicilian waters is probably linked to the ‘Mare Aperto’ naval exercise, one of the most important wargames conducted by the Italian Navy with the participation of over thirty ships and submarines as well as as many aircraft from various NATO countries.
The training maneuvers involve both Italian aircraft carriers, the ‘Cavour’ and the ‘Garibaldi’, with a Navy and Air Force F35B stealth fighter squadron on board. The exercise is scheduled to end on May 27.