Russian Subs Off East Coast Of U.S.

This article in the New York Times says that there have been two Russian Akula-class submarines hanging off the East Coast in international waters this summer. Excerpts:
According to Defense Department officials, one of the Russian submarines remained in international waters on Tuesday about 200 miles off the coast of the United States. The location of the second remained unclear. One senior official said the second submarine traveled south in recent days toward Cuba, while another senior official with access to reports on the surveillance mission said it had sailed away in a northerly direction.
The Pentagon and intelligence officials spoke anonymously to describe the effort to track the Russian submarines, which has not been publicly announced...
...One of the submarines is the newer Akula II, officials said, which is quieter than the older variant and the most advanced in the Russian fleet. The Akula is capable of carrying torpedoes for attacking other submarines and surface vessels as well as missiles for striking targets on land and at sea...
...The official said the Navy was able to track the submarines as they made their way through international waters off the American coastline. This can be done from aircraft, ships, underwater sensors or other submarines.
In case the NYT article goes behind a firewall, here's another article with pretty much the same information. And here's an article where a Russian general is trying to sound all blustery.

Personally, I think it's great that the Russians are bringing such an excellent training opportunity so close to our shores. We have to be careful that we don't waste it; I'm hoping we have most of our ASW assets in the area practicing their craft on the visitors (who, let's face it, probably have their hands full just keeping their boats on station without too many things breaking). Since the Russians have indicated a willingness to return to playing at the varsity level with this deployment, I say we don't disappoint them; we need to remind them how the game is played. If a surface ship gets an indication that the sub is close to them at PD, I say they kick it up to a flank bell and head straight down the bearing of the contact. No kneeling on the ball... let's run up the score. The lesson learned from this opportunity is not "how could the Navy let the Russians get so close to our shores" -- what do you expect us to do, blow them out of the water for sailing in international waters? The lesson learned should be, "There are still submarine threats out there, so now is not the time to cut back on our ASW assets, the most formidable of which are our own submarines".

In discussing this topic, please avoid anything classified, including any other possible times Russian subs may or may not have come close to the U.S. in the last 10 years or so.

Update 1722 05 Aug: Here's a CNN story on the Russian deployment; check out this line:
The Akula-class nuclear-powered submarines, which are normally equipped with surface-loaded cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, have stayed in international waters, the source said.
What the hell is a "surface-loaded cruise missile"? Idiot journalists...

Update 1044 06 Aug: Since I'm getting visits by people looking for information on "surface-loaded cruise missiles", I suppose I should explain what the reporter really meant (since they haven't corrected it yet). It seems that what most likely happened is that the reporter Googled for info on Akula-class submarines, and saw they carried "SLCMs". The reporter then asked their source what an "SLCM" was, and the source didn't know, so he/she made up something, instead of the correct "submarine-launched cruise missile". The reporter then printed what they were told without verifying it.

Update 1044 12 Aug: Now even the Canadian media has picked up the phrase "surface-loaded cruise missiles".