The UK Royal Navy completed a concerted five-day operation to shadow a Russian naval task group as it passed through the English Channel, on Feb. 3.
According to the Navy, three of its ships and two helicopters were involved in keeping a close watch four Russian vessels as they made their way up the Channel and into the North Sea having completed a deployment to the eastern Mediterranean.
The four Russian Navy vessels were identified as RFS Marshall Ustinov, a Slava-class cruiser; RFS Admiral Kulakov, an Udaloy-class destroyer; and their support vessels Sliva, an ocean-going tug and Vyazma, a tanker.
Plymouth-based Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland (F81) led the Royal Navy effort to monitor the Russian task group as they sailed up from the Bay of Biscay.
“As the UK’s high-readiness frigate we conduct security patrols in and around our territorial waters and national infrastructure,” said Commander Tom Weaver, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland which is currently the Navy’s on-call vessel to respond to incidents in home waters. “Working with our French and Norwegian allies, these units were monitored on their transit north from the Mediterranean and our interaction with them was wholly professional.”
As well as Sutherland and her Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, Batch II River-class patrol vessel HMS Mersey (P283), Tide-class replenishment tanker RFA Tideforce (A139), and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton ensured the Russian force was continuously observed as it sailed through UK waters.
Royal Navy sailors and aircrew monitored every movement of the task group using state-of-the-art radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, allowing them to track their course and speed as they passed the British Isles, said a Navy statement.