HMS Sutherland monitors Russian warship Vice Admiral Kulakov

The Royal Navy’s HMS Sutherland, a Devonport-based Type 23 frigate, is seen here monitoring the Vice Admiral Kulakov, an Udaloy-class destroyer, as the Russian ship transits through UK territorial waters and those of other NATO member states.

The Vice Admiral Kulakov was until recently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean; she has been under escort by NATO warships during her return journey and has now entered the English Channel.  In a routine example of the work conducted by the Royal Navy’s Fleet Ready Escort, Sutherland deployed from Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth early on Saturday morning (3 December) to a position at the western edge of the English Channel in good time to meet the Kulakov as she arrived in UK waters.   

HMS Sutherland’s job, along with her NATO colleagues, is to keep a watchful eye on the Russian ship, providing reassurance to the nations that border the North Sea and English Channel.  The frigate will also keep track of the Kulakov’s position and movements to the NATO Maritime Commander’s Headquarters on the outskirts of London. 

The transit of Russian ships from the Mediterranean to their northern ports is not unusual, but the Royal Navy is ready at all times to protect UK territorial waters.

Commandre Trish Kohn, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland

Remaining at a respectful distance, but with the Russian warship clearly visible, the Royal Navy sailors keep watch on every movement through their binoculars and use state-of-the-art radars to track her course and speed.   

Commander Trish Kohn, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, said: “This transit is being continually monitored through a coordinated response between the Royal Navy and our NATO partners. 

“The transit of Russian ships from the Mediterranean to their northern ports is not unusual, but the Royal Navy is ready at all times to protect UK territorial waters.”

HMS Sutherland has been tasked with patrolling the seas around the UK since the summer, holding the duties of Fleet Ready Escort; this follows the work of Portsmouth-based Type 23 HMS Richmond and Type 45 HMS Duncan earlier this year.  

In addition to being able to carry out escort duties, HMS Sutherland is also a highly capable submarine hunter, fitted with the latest towed array sonar and the advanced Merlin Mk2 helicopter, able to find and track submarines who may attempt to enter UK or allied waters undetected. This vital work can result in the ship staying at sea on operational tasks for weeks and sometimes months at a time, protecting the nation’s seas and supporting the Trident submarines which provide the United Kingdom’s strategic nuclear deterrent.