The USS Jason Dunham, pictured, is tracking the Admiral Gorshkov, an advanced Russian frigate, as the Russian ship arrived on Monday in Havana. Photo by MCS Spec. Tommy Lankin/U.S. Navy
June 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. Northern Command tweet confirmed on Wednesday that it is tracking a new and advanced Russian vessel as it travels near Cuba.
The Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command [NORAD] "are taking steps to actively track" a convoy of three ships led by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov as it arrived in Havana on Monday, a statement on Wednesday said.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham was about 50 nautical miles north of Havana on Tuesday tracking the Russian ships, which are believed to be heading to Venezuela.
The Admiral Gorshkov left its home port of Severomorsk, in the Arctic's Barents Sea, in February, for its first around-the-world voyage.
The first of its class of ships, Gorshkov employs stealth technology and a naval version of an electro-optic countermeasure system which fires a beam similar to a strobe light that makes it difficult for enemy combatants to aim weapons. The ship also carries conventional anti-ship and land-attack missiles.
The Russian Navy said only that the convoy's visit to Cuba is to "perform tasks in accordance with the long-range cruise plan and make business calls to the ports of some island states in the region."
Moscow has explained that "maintenance technicians" have been sent to Venezuela under preexisting military treaties with Caracas.
The arrival of the Admiral Gorshkov in Havana prompted a complaint from Elliott Abrams, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela.
Abrams noted "a very troubling dichotomy where the United States is bringing humanitarian aid, bringing doctors and medicine and the Russian government, guided missile frigates, and military personnel to Venezuela."
"That speaks to some of the hypocrisy that we've seen with both Russia and Venezuela where they've said they don't want foreign troops in Venezuela," he added. "There aren't any U.S. foreign troops there, but there are certainly Russian foreign troops there. Right now, the USS Comfort hospital ship is heading into the Caribbean and South America, and will dock at a number of ports to bring medical care to Venezuelan refugees and locals, while Russia is sending its warship, the Gorshkov, and more military technicians to Venezuela."
The USS Comfort embarked on a visit to several Caribbean countries, to aid Venezuelan refugees, in June.