Nine Royal Navy warships are shadowing seven Russian warships after “unusually high levels of activity” in the English Channel and North Sea.
As the Royal Navy prepares to help the NHS and other government departments deal with the response to the coronavirus outbreak, nine British ships have been shadowing seven Russian vessels in waters around the UK.
HMS Tyne shadows the Russian corvette Steregushchiy
The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea.
Type 23 frigates HMS Kent, HMS Sutherland, HMS Argyll and HMS Richmond joined Offshore Patrol Vessels HMS Tyne and HMS Mersey along with RFA Tideforce, RFA Tidespring and HMS Echo for the large-scale operation with support from NATO allies.
HMS Sutherland has been shadowing seven Russian ships alongside eight other Royal Navy vessels in UK
Lieutenant Nick Ward, HMS Tyne’s Executive Officer said, “As the Armed Forces are helping the NHS save lives in the UK, it’s essential the Navy continues to deliver the tasks we have always performed to help keep Britain safe.
“This is very much part of routine business for HMS Tyne and represents one of the many roles our patrol vessels perform in support of the Royal Navy’s commitments.
“This is our core business and represents an enduring commitment to uphold the security of the UK.”
HMS Argyll has been shadowing seven Russian ships alongside eight other Royal Navy vessels in UK
As the Navy’s logistics specialists and military planners work with the wider Armed Forces to help the coronavirus response effort, Royal Navy sailors and aircrew were monitoring every movement of the Russian ships using state-of-the-art radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, allowing them to track their course and speed as they passed the British Isles.
They were supported by Merlin and Wildcat helicopters of 814 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons.
Portsmouth-based HMS Tyne spent more than a week working in the English Channel, in often challenging seas, keeping a close eye on the Russian vessels as they pass the south coast.
Three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates were observed during the operations, plus their supporting auxiliary ships and tugs.
HMS Sutherland, fresh from a demanding period of Arctic training on Exercise Cold Response, watched over the Russian presence as part of her duties with NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group One, a very high readiness task group made up of frigates and destroyers which patrols northern European waters to provide a reassuring presence.
HMS Sutherland’s Operations Officer, Lieutenant Hannah Lee said, “Our successful integration into the maritime group proves our ability to adapt to task group operations at short notice.
“Having proved we can work together and contributed once again to NATO operations, we now look to return to UK national tasks in support of the very highest defence priorities.”
Three weeks ago six RAF fighter jets were scrambled as a Russian bomber tried to enter UK airspace over Scotland.
Two pairs of Tornadoes were dispatched from RAF Lossiemouth near Scotland, whilst the third flew from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
A Voyager tanker, the air-to-air refuelling aircraft, from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, was also deployed.