UK Frigate Shadows Russian Navy Task Group Through English Channel
On Monday, the Royal Navy completed a five-day operation to shadow a Russian task group as it passed the UK. Three UK warships and two helicopters kept a close watch on 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. The Russian task group was returning home from a deployment to the eastern Mediterranean.
Along with Sutherland and her Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron, patrol vessel HMS Mersey, tanker RFA Tideforce, and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at Yeovilton ensured the Russian force was under continuous watch 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,” 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.”
"HMS Sutherland has a fantastic reputation for versatility – last year we justifiably won the coveted Above Water Warfare trophy," said Lieutenant Commander George Blakeman, Sutherland’s weapon engineer officer. “Our ship’s company remain determined to uphold the integrity of our sea lanes and will maintain a vigilant watch."