The UK Royal Navy River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Medway (P223) has followed the progress of veteran Russian Navy cruiser Marshal Ustinov as she sailed from the North Sea, past Dover and into the Channel.
The brand-new patrol ship – on her first mission – was dispatched from Portsmouth to spend 36-hours monitoring the Ustinov before handing over to the Marine Nationale (French Navy) as the Russian warship continued south past France.
The Ustinov’s journey is the latest activity in home waters prompted by Russia’s annual navy day event in St Petersburg, after which participating warships have spread out across Europe.
Frigate HMS Westminster monitored the Chinese guided missile destroyer Xian a fortnight ago as she returned from the Baltic, while last week Medway’s sister ship HMS Forth sailed from Gibraltar to shadow the patrol vessel Vasily Bykov, also fresh from maritime celebrations in St Petersburg.
“This has been Medway’s first operational tasking – we picked up the Ustinov on Wednesday and handed over to the French last night,” said Commander Ben Power, HMS Medway’s Commanding Officer.
“It was a good opportunity to display the flexibility, speed and reach of the new offshore patrol vessels whilst conducting what for the Royal Navy are routine escort duties.”
Medway, which only raised the White Ensign for the first time in March and whose crew have spent the spring training and readying the ship for patrol duties, is the second of five second-generation River-class ships being built for the Royal Navy to safeguard home waters but also deploy around the globe.
Along with her sister vessels, HMS Medway was designed for counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defence duties.
The first steel was cut on HMS Medway in June 2015, at a ceremony in Glasgow. HMS Medway was formally named at BAE’s Scotstoun yard on the Clyde by Lady Fallon, wife of former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and sponsor of Medway, on 20 October 2017.