Royal Navy scrambles to intercept fleet of NINE Russian warships

Royal Navy scrambles to intercept fleet of NINE Russian warships spotted in waters close to UK

  • NATO allies involved in the operation to monitor ‘every movement’ of the fleet
  • Corvettes, landing ships and missile-armed patrol boats had been spotted 
  • Commanding officers say Russians ‘operated in safe and professional manner’

The Royal Navy has forced back nine Russian warships after ‘heightened levels of activity’ were noticed in waters close to the UK.

An operation carried out alongside NATO allies saw offshore patrol vessels HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne join Type 23 frigate Westminster in monitoring ‘every movement’ of the Russian fleet.

This was made up of three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, three Ropucha-class landing ships and the same number of missile-armed patrol boats.

The Russians were tracked through some of the busiest sea lanes in the world by the Navy and allies including Portugal, Canada, Germany, Norway and Denmark. 

Offshore patrol vessel HMS Mersey shadows one of the nine Russian warships seen in waters close to the UK

The Russians were tracked through some of the busiest sea lanes in the world by the Navy and allies including Portugal, Canada, Germany, Norway and Denmark

The Royal Navy warships were assigned to the very high readiness Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), which patrols the waters of northern Europe from the Baltic to the Atlantic

Russian ships had dispersed after their Navy Day in St Petersburg last month and sailed out from the Baltic Sea and into the North Sea for large-scale exercises.

The Royal Navy warships were assigned to the very high readiness Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), which patrols the waters of northern Europe from the Baltic to the Atlantic.

British ships worked closely with Portuguese frigate NRP Corte-Real – the task group’s flagship – and Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto of the Royal Canadian Navy, while there were numerous supporting vessels from German, Norwegian and Danish navies.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tideforce helped keep the ships at sea by replenishing fuel and supplies. 

Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster, Commander Will Paston, said: ‘The Royal Navy demonstrated its flexibility in being able to shadow the Russian Navy units.

‘While the Russian Navy operated in a safe and professional manner, HMS Westminster combined with NATO-allied units across the North Sea and Baltic Sea to escort them throughout.’

HMS Westminster joined NRP Corte-Real in the north, monitoring the missile-armed patrol boats, while under the control of HMCS Toronto, HMS Tyne and Mersey shadowed the corvettes and landing ships as they headed south towards the English Channel.

‘Shadowing missions such as this are increasingly routine for Mersey and her sister ships of the Royal Navy’s Overseas Patrol Squadron,’ added Lt Cdr Edwards-Bannon.

An operation carried out alongside NATO allies saw offshore patrol vessels HMS Mersey, pictured, and HMS Tyne join Type 23 frigate Westminster in monitoring ‘every movement’ of the Russian fleet

British ships worked closely with Portuguese frigate NRP Corte-Real – the task group’s flagship – and Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto of the Royal Canadian Navy, while there were numerous supporting vessels from German, Norwegian and Danish navies

‘This was the first time in recent years, however, that we have done so while under the operational command of NATO.

‘As such we raised the NATO flag here in Mersey with pride as we worked closely with fellow service personnel from many of the alliance’s 30 member countries, both ashore at NATO’s Maritime Command HQ in London and afloat in the other allied warships comprising the Standing NATO Maritime Group One.’

Lieutenant Commander Richard Skelton, Commanding Officer of HMS Tyne, said: ‘I am proud to say Tyne seamlessly integrated into SNMG1 and supported NATO in monitoring Russian activity in the North Sea.

‘The speed at which the task group formed and became operationally effective is testament to the strength of NATO and I am pleased to be part of it.’

This latest operation comes after Mersey and sister ship Tyne tracked destroyer RFS Vice Admiral Kulakov as it headed into the North Sea and through the English Channel earlier this month.

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