Royal Navy shadows Russian task group through Channel

The Royal Navy today completed a concerted five-day operation to shadow a Russian task group as it passed the UK.

Three Navy 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.

Plymouth-based frigate HMS Sutherland led the Royal Navy effort to monitor the force – RFS Marshall Ustinov, a Slava-class cruiser, RFS Admiral Kulakov a Udaloy-class destroyer and their support vessels Sliva, an ocean-going tug and tanker Vyazma – as the group sailed up from the Bay of Biscay having completed a deployment to the eastern Mediterranean.

As well as Sutherland and her Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose in Cornwall, patrol vessel HMS Mersey, tanker RFA Tideforce, and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at Yeovilton ensured the Russian force was continuously observed as it sailed through UK waters.

As the UK’s high-readiness frigate we conduct security patrols in and around our territorial waters and national infrastructure.

Cdr Tom Weaver, CO of HMS Sutherland

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.

“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.”

Lieutenant Commander George Blakeman, Sutherland’s weapon engineer officer, added: ” HMS Sutherland has a fantastic reputation for versatility – last year we justifiably won the coveted Above Water Warfare trophy, so we’re well trained and more than capable of carrying out this duty.”

“Our ship’s company remain determined to uphold the integrity of our sea lanes and will maintain a vigilant watch. It’s vitally important the Royal Navy continues to demonstrate its presence and commitment to the integrity of our territorial waters and this tasking is a clear example of that.”