As locals react, Trump comments on Russian ship

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — For fifty years, the Nautilus Barber Shop in Groton has been an institution for service members, proven by collected memorabilia from customers on Joe Quaratella’s walls.

“See what it says, ‘Joe, thanks for all the support and all my haircuts since an ensign,'” Quaratella said as he read an autographed picture of a submarine.

News of a Russian spy ship anchored 30 miles off the Groton coast, is no news at all for the regulars, who’ve seen them come and go over the decades.

Related Content: Russian spy ship moves away from Groton to mid-Atlantic

“I’ve had officers and people tell me they (Russians) are out there all the time,” Quaratella said. “Not unusual.”

Political leaders took a different viewpoint. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), received a classified Navy briefing Thursday afternoon about the Russian provocation. He explained why in an interview Wednesday with News 8.

“I have requested and I will receive (Thursday) classified briefing because I am so alarmed by this Russian spy ship off our coast,” Blumenthal said.

Web Extra: Senator Blumenthal on Russian Spy Ship

When questioned during a Thursday news conference about a possible U.S. response to multiple, recent Russian provocations, President Donald Trump did not provide clear answer.

“So when you ask me what am I going to do about the ship? The Russian ship as an example? I’m not going to tell you. But hopefully I won’t have to do anything, but I’m not going to tell you,” Trump told reporters.

Related Content: Expert: U.S., Russia have spied on each other since before the Cold War

The U.S. Coast Guard tracked the Russian Ship Viktor Leonov up and down the eastern seaboard. They said it is now somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Back in Groton, where the Naval Submarine Base New London is a source of great pride, the locals are confident it’s the safest place to be.

“It’s a great feeling having these people here in town,” Quaratella said. “They’re protecting us.”

On Thursday afternoon, Senator Blumenthal shared the following information with News 8 after meeting with the Department of Defense.

While this spy ship is no longer off the coast of Connecticut, and has moved south, my strong view is that this incident shows the need for proactive steps to prevent cyber surveillance or electronic espionage. These steps include closely monitoring and physically accompanying such ships when they are near our nation’s coast, and hardening and enhancing our safeguards against these ships collecting and intercepting sensitive information. The focus of such security efforts should be private facilities like Electric Boat and other shipyards, as well as military bases and ports.”

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