Spanish and Portuguese Navies Monitor Movement of Russian Ships

Portuguese Navy
Portugal along with Spain tracked the movement of three Russian Federation vessels (Marinha Portuguesa photos)

Published Mar 27, 2024 2:01 PM by The Maritime Executive


In a coordinated operation, the navies of Spain and Portugal have been monitoring the movement of three Russian Federation vessels during their transit of the countries’ territorial waters. The ships were first detected off the Spanish peninsular and they were tracked as they moved east into the Mediterranean.

Both countries stressed it was part of their routine maritime surveillance and security operations. Tensions have however remained elevated since the invasion of Ukraine and several previous reports of Russian incursions into the territorial waters of several western European countries. There were accusations in the past of Russian vessels surveying offshore assets in both the Netherlands and Belgium

Span’s Defense Ministry reports the vessels were detected in the early hours of March 21 during a patrol by the Atalaya, a 1,200-ton patrol boat commissioned in 1992. During the maritime surveillance and security operation, three vessels were spotted in Spanish waters northwest of the peninsula. Spanish forces identified the vessel as a small tanker the Kola used for refueling operations which was sailing with the landing ship Ivan Gren and the Ropucha-class landing ship Aleksander Otrakovsky.


Ivan Gren a Russian landing ship (Marinha Portuguesa)


Russian refueler Kola (Marinha Portuguesa)


The Spanish patrol vessel continued to follow the three ships until they reached Portuguese waters. Marinha Portuguesa reports it dispatched its vessels the NRP Bartolomeu Dias and the NRP Viana do Castelo to take the handover from Spain early on the morning of March 22. 

Portugal’s vessels then accompanied the Russian ships and further clarified the situation. They remained with the Russian vessels until shortly after dawn on March 24.

The Spanish patrol boat Vigi relieved the Portuguese ships in the monitoring of the group of Russian vessels. The patrol boat continued to accompany the Russian ships as they passed through the waters of the Gulf of Cadiz. 

There were no incidents during the transit but Span highlights it is monitoring maritime traffic on a line that connects Cape San Vincent with the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain in 2021 detected two Russian Federation warships and denied them permission to anchor in the port of Ceuta on the northern coast of Africa to refuel and replenish supplies.