Long Island Iced Tea

I love maps. They often reveal things quickly and simply in a way text cannot. Like this map I’ve pulled together showing two points recently in the news.

To the right, Groton, Connecticut, where the U.S. has a naval facility

To the left, Glen Cove, New York — the location of a waterfront compound, Killenworth Mansion, owned for decades by Russia. The site was used for electronic spying according to the Reagan administration. A second compound, Norwich House, located five miles away in Upper Brookville, was vacated in December after former president Obama issued new sanctions on Russia in response to alleged interference in U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Multiple news reports yesterday noted a Russian spy ship “loitering” approximately 30 miles south of Groton, near Long Island’s shoreline, in international waters.

But none of them mentioned the ship was approximately 60-80 miles from the site of the Russian government compounds.

Huh. What an interesting coincidence that this Russian vessel didn’t loiter near any of more than a dozen naval facilities along the east coast. Granted, Groton is home to the Naval Submarine Base New London, home to the Navy’s subs on the east coast.

But is this submarine base more interesting than any of the Navy facilities in Maryland, Virginia, Florida? Not to mention Rhode Island, South Carolina or Georgia. Nor did the spy ship hang around near the other waterfront facility located in Maryland that Russia was forced to vacate in December.

It’s almost if the Russians left something behind on Long Island and were looking for it.

Or listening for it.

UPDATE — 5:38 p.m. EST: Here’s another nifty map depicting existing and planned submarine communications cables landed in northeast US. Fun stuff! I wonder which one carries the most financial data to/from Wall Street to overseas markets…

Submarine communications cables, northeast US, 2016 (via Greg’s Cable Map at cablemap.info)

61 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There seems to be little novel in a Russian ship navigating in international waters, even within hailing distance off the Gatsby coast. Off which coasts might one find American spy ships? And other observational platforms? From what other events might we be being distracted by this tempest in a samovar?

    • Rayne says:

      I get it. Spy ships gonna’ spy. We spy, they spy. Been this way longer than I’ve been alive; I used to look forward to reading Spy vs. Spy in Mad Magazine as a kid because it poked fun at the institutional nature of US-USSR/RUS spying.

      But if you think Russian spying is unrelated to Russian hacking or influence on policy, wow, you might want to stop drinking the tea.

      And if you think it isn’t odd that this ship is ‘loitering’ near Russia’s remaining NY compound, well…I guess the arrest of spies in NY in 2015 and the death of a Russian inside the NYC embassy in December don’t look odd, either. You might even disabuse the idea somebody was offering a less than subtle reminder they’d like to hear permission granted to return to Glen Cove.

  2. klynn says:

    And then, there is this:

    “…Making matters worse, the shore nodes are astonishingly concentrated. For example on the US east coast, virtually all of the trans-Atlantic undersea cables come ashore at three locations between Long Island and southern New Jersey. On the US west coast, the vast bulk of cable traffic is concentrated in two locations, one in Central California and the other in Oregon.”



    • P J Evans says:

      The west coast has a lot fewer places where cables can be connected – it’s mostly mountainous (vertical, in large part). Not much of an offshore shelf, either.

      • Rayne says:

        You would think given the limited physical conditions that west coast cable landings would be more congested. Surprisingly not — the Long Island area is far more so by comparison. Only Rockaway Beach in Oregon comes close. Age and distance to next landing must factor.

  3. lefty665 says:

    klynn, Thank you, very nice link. 73

    Don’t suppose there might be interesting sig int coming out of Groton or other facilities in the area do you?  The article you linked stated sonar at Groton as the likely target. That is a legitimate and desirable target for sig int.  A closed down resort is likely a lot less interesting than USG targets. Whatever the Ruskies had there was assuredly tidied up as they were leaving. They are not inclined to leave sources and methods lying around in the US where they don’t have access and we can look at them, especially not things that require proximity to communicate with. They don’t tend to piss away resources on meaningless surveillance either. The Vishnya class intelligence ships are expensive, very capable, and there are only 7 of them.  Groton and other USG facilities are legitimate sig int targets, and like Groucho Marx said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

    “For what it’s worth” “Paranoia strikes deep, into your mind it will creep.”

      • lefty665 says:

        Sigh, you’re bright, that’s why I read you, but when you get off on a frolic it’s usually a doozy, like this one.

        Speak for yourself Mz paranoia. Some of us show up for the good factual analysis and logic of some of the posters. We value the hard work, detail and skepticism, not to be confused with paranoia.

        Smoke something different, you’re into the wrong kind of weeds. Your current stash makes you goofy.



      • lefty665 says:

        Funny you say “loitering” approximately 30 miles south of Groton” then “the ship was approximately 60-80 miles from the site of the Russian government compounds.”  From there you take off on a flight of fancy that the Russians would go two to three times closer to a legitimate sig int target to instead target an abandoned R&R area.

        Could it be that the Russians do as we do and put sig int collection where there is intelligence to be gathered?  Heavens to Murgatroyd, who’da thunk it? Could it also be that there is something “interesting” going on at Groton that inspired the Russians to target it rather than the other east coast sites they passed on the way up the coast?  Nah, couldn’t have been that, it was more likely the dead R&R site talking to Castro’s ghost, after all they stopped in Cuba first to get that end of the conversation. Pull the other leg next time, it’s got bells on.

        • Rayne says:

          Could it be that the Russians do as we do and put sig int collection where there is intelligence to be gathered?

          What? There’s SIGINT to be collected 30 miles offshore from Long Island? Why didn’t that occur to me? Gee, Mr. Smart White Guy, I’m SO glad I have you to point that out to little old me!

          • lefty665 says:

            No need to thank me, someone had to do it. You clearly weren’t getting there on your own. Tell me again your pipe dream about secret snooping from a site the Russians have been evicted from that they have to send an expensive resource half way around the world to monitor while pretending to collect sonar intel from Groton. That is too funny. Hope spring gets to Michigan soon, cabin fever seems to have set in.

            Although this one has been good for laughs, I’ll try to avoid posts with your byline for awhile. We’ve both got better ways to spend our time.

              • lefty665 says:

                Actually, what I want to avoid is your goofyness when you get off on nonsense and foolishness as you have done here. It is often good for a laugh, but that is not enough to make it worthwhile wading through the manure to get to the occasional good stuff you post.

                What do you do, wait until EW is out of town to sneak in postings like this that stink up an otherwise insightful and wonderfully factual emptywheel blog?


                  • lefty665 says:

                    Hah, that’s it isn’t it? You slip this foolishness in when the boss is out of town.

                    Best wishes that you’re back up to snuff with your next post about the Russians and Spying, when you’re good you’re good. Even without boats there’s a lot of real material out there to work with.

    • klynn says:

      Paranoia, not so much. I studied in the former Soviet Union and one year ended up detained…long story but it taught me a few things to consider as I read news about the Russians. So I never avoid considering the potential of any action.

      • lefty665 says:

        I’ll bet it did.  Expect the USSR was a scary place and it was rational to examine everything pretty closely. That is not paranoia. Lots of things may not have been what they seemed. Glad you got undetained, and hope that the trauma was minimal. Don’t think any of us are under the illusion that the Russians are nice guys, and you know for sure.

  4. lefty665 says:

    klynn, The rest of the links you provided were great too.

    James Bamford’s book, “The Shadow Factory” is a good look at how it all works too. Amazing how concentrated the fiber is when it comes ashore.  Makes it convenient to look at all the traffic as it streams by.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I don’t think the Russians are nice guys, any more than I think our spooks and assassins are nice guys.  I don’t question why the Russians are there. I question why this is in the media now.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m not surprised this is in the media. It’s within view of folks flying in and out of major US airports and by ship traffic.

      Were it off the west coast it might gotten much less attention — which begs the question why is it so visible now off the east coast?

  6. Bob In Portland says:


    Maybe Russia sent a ship down the coast to show the flag. After all, we’ve moved a battalion of tanks to flex their treads along the Russian border.

    But, Marcy I’m really trying to see the Russians under my bed.

    • Rayne says:

      Not certain if you realize this post wasn’t written by Marcy — note the byline.

      And yeah, they could be showing the flag, so why not closer to where it could be seen by air and marine traffic in and out of DC (political) or Maryland (military)?

  7. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Some different dots from a slightly different angle:

    SS7 hacked, definitely transmitters, and Cogent (pwned or always owned).

    [Their heaviest presence as a Tier 1 internet carrier is in the New York area]

    They have AS[N] 174, the lowest of any Tier 1 to my knowledge. They have existed over 17 years now, but were formed by buying lots of other companies.


    Based in DC (wink, wink) but really based in NY area.


    [Do not have time to correlate the numerous addresses listed to russian addresses, but a LOT in NJ and NY. A LOT]

    So, besides the possibilty of hacked SS7, hacked telephone switches, and hacked routers (for example at Cogent), what else would the russia ship be up to? Well, maybe the same as the US does via:


    Or maybe the ship is also C2 to a receiver (or multiple receivers – likely) based in the NY/NJ area.

    And if you look at the graphic here, you can easily see the connection to DDOS attacks likely being controlled from the NY/NJ area:


    But some flags to me that point to Cogent:
    (from the wikipedia link above)

    Cogent has been controversial in the ISP market for low bandwidth pricing and its public disputes over peering with AOL (2003),[16] France Telecom (2006),[17] Level 3 Communications (2005),[18] TeliaSonera (March 2008)[19] and Sprint Nextel (October 2008).[20]

    On March 14, 2008, after Cogent stopped routing packets from European network provider Telia (AS 1299), their two networks lost mutual connectivity.[19] The connection was reestablished March 28, 2008 with interconnection points in both the United States and Europe.[21]

    On June 6, 2011, Cogent automatically stopped peering with The Department of Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)[22] causing a disruption for 3 days.

    Cogent has yet to agree on peering with one of the biggest IPv6 connectivity providers, Hurricane Electric. As of March 2016, direct connectivity between the two networks is impossible.[23] Cogent and Google have also stopped IPv6 peering in 2016.[24]

    In February 2017, Cogent blocked many pirating and streaming sites including The Pirate Bay.[25]

    So Hurricane Electric *AND* Google smell a problem, IMO.

    And the last point regarding Pirate Bay is very, very interesting because, well, it is NOT about Pirate Bay *AT ALL*


    A court order blocked pirate sites that weren’t supposed to be blocked

    Poorly crafted court orders threaten the open Internet, Cloudflare says.

    One week ago, the news site TorrentFreak reported that The Pirate Bay and nearly 20 other torrent and pirate sites were being blocked by Cogent Communications, an Internet backbone provider. The block had been in place for more than a week and appeared to “appl[y] to the company’s entire global network,” affecting customers of ISPs “from all over the world” that send traffic through Cogent.

    Though most Internet users were unaffected, anyone “attempting to pass requests through Cogent’s network are unable to access [the sites],” the article said.

    Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer yesterday confirmed to Ars that the company is complying with a court order issued recently in Spain. But The Pirate Bay was not the subject of the court order, Schaeffer also confirmed. Schaeffer would not say which site or sites the order was intended to block, but the incident demonstrates how court orders to block websites can have unintended effects. (We have not been able to track down the specific court order at this time.)

    [Maybe there is no court order at all]

    The Pirate Bay is a customer of Cloudflare, which operates a global network that improves performance of websites and protects them from DDoS attacks and other security threats. That means when Internet users try to reach thepiratebay.org, their queries are resolved to a Cloudflare-run IP address, which is shared by a number of Cloudflare customers.

    This is where trying to block specific websites becomes a problem for websites that aren’t supposed to be blocked, Cloudflare General Counsel Doug Kramer told Ars yesterday. On Cloudflare’s network, there are multiple domains on an IP address, and IP addresses assigned to websites can change.

    Cloudflare executives are concerned about the impact of court orders such as the one that affected The Pirate Bay. Cloudflare can rearrange its IP addresses to help companies like Cogent comply with court orders narrowly and tell the companies which IP addresses should and shouldn’t be blocked. But grouping IP addresses based on court orders will not be simple when there are a series of court orders affecting different websites and different network operators.

    [My conclusion at this point is that Cogent is damage, and we must route around it. As Hurricane Electric and Google have concluded]

    • Rayne says:

      Chewy. I lean toward the C2 myself given other data points. Definitely worrisome, the Cogent problem, though I wonder if there are positive reasons for what looks like overreach.

  8. Cv says:

    The decline of this site from a place of logic and reason to a crazy town pushing constant Russia fears is actually sad to me. This one is by far the worst. People appreciated the deep analysis, actual evidence, and logic that used to drive posts. Now it’s all inference, coincidence, speculation, and constant concern about Russia. Our country has killed citizens by drone w/o due process, the DNC robbed Bernie, and half our voters have lives so hopeless they voted for Trump. There are real issues and problems to address.

    • Rayne says:

      “it’s all inference, coincidence, speculation, and constant concern about Russia” — well, is there or isn’t there a Russian military vessel offshore of Long Island? Is there or isn’t there two Russian compounds on Long Island? Has the National Security Adviser lost his job this week because of calls to Russia? I could go on but it’s clear you just want to police away posts to whatever interests you.

      “half our voters have lives so hopeless they voted for Trump” — uh, only ~27% of voters of threw for him, and many of that number were white/male/+$40K a year. Misogyny and racism were factors for these “hopeless.”

      “There are real issues and problems to address.” — Oh, nice spin on “fake news.” I personally think undue foreign influence on a highly vulnerable republic already struggling against single-party fascist rule is a legitimate, real problem, as are structural racism and implicit misogyny. But knock yourself out and find a place better suited to your opinions. Hasta la vista.

      • Cv says:

        The location of the ships and properties are true facts but as Lefty pointed out above your “analysis” and implied connection of these facts is weak and bordering on paranoia.

        The media and deep state have successfully made a “scary connection” between Trump and Russia in your mind. This focuses your dissapointment in the election and hatred of Trump into promoting their agenda by reinforcing the Russia boogie man storyline.

        The soft coup removing Flynn is another great topic. You likely cheer the results due to your dislike of Trump, but you fail to recognize the danger of intelligence leaking to remove politicians they don’t like. What if they do that in the future to a liberal administration that supports single payer? One that you and I might love?

        • Rayne says:

          Ellsberg. Heard all your arguments about leakers back in the day.

          Manning. Snowden. Heard the same arguments yet again under administrations of two different parties.

          You know what stops leaking? Not doing shit subordinates believe to be illegal. Not punishing people for trying to change the illegal through their chain of command.

          And I don’t give a rat’s butt if you think taking note of more than the obvious is paranoia. You know why this site exists? Because the site’s creator didn’t accept the conventional wisdom. Still doesn’t. And I don’t either. You can join lefty665 and skip my bylines, my feelings won’t be hurt.

          • Cv says:

            Manning and Snowden revealed serious illegal and unconstitutional activity. Their whistleblowing was justified and served the public good.

            Personally, I don’t think an incoming admin cautioning another nuclear power against overreacting and suggesting the sanctions will be reviewed when they take over comes anywhere near the same level of behavior requiring employees to go public.

            The failure to provide an actual transcript or documents also differ.

            This was the IC undermining an administration, not a revelation of terrible behavior for the public good.


  9. John Casper says:


    Have you ever commented here before?

    You wrote, “The decline of this site from…”

    When did the decline start? Please provide a link.

    You wrote, “This one is by far the worst.”

    Please provide links to the next four “worst.”

    You wrote, “There are real issues and problems to address.”

    Please rank the top ten issues and the top ten problems.

    Why haven’t you provided a less inaccurate analysis of the Viktor Leonov? Is it lost? Is the crew trying to defect?

    You wrote, “your ‘analysis’ and implied connection of these facts is weak and bordering on paranoia.”

    I missed that. Please quote those lines.

    “The Hunt For the Viktor Leonov”

    Why didn’t you mention, “USS Porter Buzzed by Russian Planes in Black Sea?”

    Is that related?

    Do you have a degree in psychology? You made claims about what Rayne was focussed on. Can you back those up?

  10. klynn says:

    Try explaining the points on the Trump – Russian timeline just over the past year. There is a timeline that extends way beyond a year. For now, let’s just limit the scope to a timeline of the past year. The dots that connect on that timeline lean anyone toward asking questions about, “Why that ship, at this time, at that location?” This site has a history of putting up working threads and threads that ask questions out loud and allows folks to come to the table with resources to think out loud and see what we are able to crowd source in terms of sources with information that might fill in questions or more points on a timeline. One such instance was a lengthy multi post discussion on enhanced interogation techniques and digging up info on Mitchell and Jessen. Sources here standing behind Jeff’s amazing ACLU blogging on torture — Jeff’s work and crowd sourced work paired with EWs analysis and ability to take comments and find evidence to tie insights and sources together, became the go-to resources on ETTs. Emptywheel has a variety of types of posts. This post is not an analysis post. It is an “ask the question out loud” post and then discuss.

    • lefty665 says:

      “Why that ship, at this time, at that location?” is a good question worth exploring.

      Supposing a bizarre hypothetical and making up foolishness as Rayne did does not foster rational discussion. There is a huge amount of real traffic in the region, why not posit one of those sites if what you want to do is to start a discussion? Why make one up?  The Russians left something behind when they moved out and now have to deploy an expensive and rare (only 7 ships in the Vishnya class) intelligence asset half way around the world where it has never been before to monitor it?  Really? That begs credulity for multiple reasons, practical, technical and rational.

      The Leonov was no doubt after something. She was in new waters, and has been deployed off other US submarine facilities in the past. We can bet there was a very good reason the Russians sent an expensive, and apparently unique, asset with very specific sonar capabilities in addition to more common intercept equipment, half way around the world to sit about 30 miles off the submarine base at Groton.  Anything interesting to the Russians that is going on there, and if our Navy is doing its job there should be, is likely highly enough classified we will not find out what it is, even through extended discussion. It is however a reasonable discussion to have.

      The Leonov was sitting roughly 30 miles off Groton and 60-80 miles from the ex-Russian R&R site. The news stories that were linked, and others I looked at about the Leonov, all said Groton was the target. Did the reporters learn something we don’t know, and sanitized it for publication? Were they right? Who knows, but that is certainly a basis for far more rational discussion than hypothetical Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysterious secret emissions from an abandoned resort that nobody knows about but the Russians.


      • John Casper says:

        You wrote “The Russians left something behind when they moved out and now have to deploy an expensive and rare (only 7 ships in the Vishnya class) intelligence asset half way around the world where it has never been before to monitor it?  Really? That begs credulity for multiple reasons, practical, technical and rational.”

        “Really?” The Russians are doing it. They sent an “expensive and rare intelligence asset half way around the world” where no Russian ship has ever “been before.”

        You wrote, “Anything interesting to the Russians that is going on there, and if our Navy is doing its job there should be,…” Unless you can explain why Russian ships haven’t been this far north before, either “our Navy” isn’t doing its job, or the Russians aren’t interested in Groton.

        Sounds like you’ve had or have some significant security clearances. Since you’re pushing one target so hard, it’s tough for me to accept that you think it’s primary.

        • lefty665 says:

          John, There is a logical point of interest for that ship, and that is the naval yard at Groton, or there are other legitimately interesting things in the area. However, they do not, to vanishingly low orders of probability, include some made up mysterious communications device the Russians supposedly left at an abandoned R&R facility that was three times further from the Leonov than actual interesting US Navy stuff at Groton (see above “Govt furnished equipment Sonar sensors, arrays and components”).  That is stuff the Leonov is uniquely equipped to look at, as it has done at other US naval shipyards in the past (ask the Google, it will tell you more than you want to know in a hurry).

          There is no need for security clearances, significant or not to discount Rayne’s Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys “Mystery of the Abandoned Commie Resort” fantasy. A little simple logic and common sense will do the trick nicely. Coincidence, a Russian ship and an abandoned R&R facility exist within 100 miles of each other for a short time. Causality, the Russians station a specially equipped ship offshore to collect intelligence from a US Navy shipyard just as they have done in the past at other US Navy shipyards. This is not difficult stuff nor is it classified, it all comes from open literature. It took .65 of a second for the Google to return 192,000 results to the query “Groton sonar”. One of the first was the General Dynamics job ad I quoted from and linked above. Several more included the Leonov.

          You ask why Groton, why now?  I dunno, I’m not in the Russian chain of command.  Does it need to be any more complicated than that the Navy is currently doing something at Groton the Russians are interested in so they sent their intelligence ship to take a look? That seems to be the way we do things. The Israelis did not like it when we sent the USS Liberty to look at what they were doing so they attacked it. They killed 34 sailors and wounded 171. We and the Russians are apparently a little more civilized.

          Another thought, if there was actually something at the abandoned resort, why send a ship half way around the world to talk to it when there are people stationed in the area, closer than the Leonov got, who could do it, or use a satellite? Both would be far more discreet and a lot cheaper.

  11. martin says:

    This focuses your dissapointment in the election and hatred of Trump into promoting their agenda by reinforcing the Russia boogie man storyline.

    Today is #RandomActsOfKindnessDay! So I won’t tell you to *shove your drivel and fuck off*.

    @realDonaldTrump  Have a nice day.  *shudders*

    @emptywheel gang  sorry. Irish temperament is a curse sometimes. carry on.


  12. SpacelifeForm says:

    OT?:  Comey done?


    FBI Director James B. Comey met with lawmakers from the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Friday, amid an uproar over alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
    Committee members and Comey spent nearly three hours Friday afternoon in a secure room in the Senate basement used for classified briefings, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

  13. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT (yeah):  Techdirt being sued for 15mil.

    [PJ, you on this?  Can you get them some help?]

    As you may know, Techdirt is currently facing a First Amendment fight for its life, and we need your help to survive it. Donations to the Techdirt Survival Fund help us continue our reporting on First Amendment issues including defamation law, intermediary liability, chilling effects, copyright abuse, and the need for a federal anti-SLAPP statute while we face a significant drain on our time and resources from this legal threat.

    Journalism and vigorous public debate are critical to our democracy, and in the age of corporate media, independent voices are more important than ever. Recently, we’ve witnessed a pattern of attacks on the free press from both the private sector and the government, up to and including the President himself. Our situation is just a piece of that puzzle, but it’s an important one. Learn more about Techdirt’s current legal fight.
    Attacks like these are designed to stifle public discourse — and they’ve often been successful. If you believe in supporting strong independent journalism that will stand up to such attacks, please donate to the Techdirt Survival Fund today.

  14. greengiant says:

    Moving target,  was off the shore of Virginia yesterday.  http://abcnews.go.com/International/russian-spy-ship-now-off-virginia-coast/story?id=45547194

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