Portsmouth-based warship sent to shadow Russian ship off Scotland

READY  Portsmouth-based warship HMS Defender pictured arriving in Glasgow on an unrelated visit

READY Portsmouth-based warship HMS Defender pictured arriving in Glasgow on an unrelated visit

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THE warship that was sent to shadow a Russian off the coast of Scotland after it sailed near the Moray Firth has been named as HMS Defender.

As reported by The News, HMS Defender sailed from the city in December.

Today a national newspaper reports the missile-carrying Russian warship came within 30 miles of the coast before Christmas.

It said Portsmouth-based HMS Defender was the only ship available to respond due to Ministry of Defence cutbacks and had a tense stand-off with the Russian ship.

The Type 45 took 24 hours to reach the coast of Scotland, where her crew manned battle stations as the two ships exchanged radio messages.

The approach toward Britain by the Russian ship launched a navy and Royal Air Force operation run by the Permanent Joint Headquarters bunker at Northwood, outside London.

RAF planes tracked the Russian warship when it was close to north-east Scotland. Reconnaissance showed the ship had a full payload of missiles.

Due to cutbacks there are no patrol vessels off Scotland, the national newspaper reports.

The Russian ship sailed off after the stand-off and HMS Defender followed it to the Baltic Sea, where a Russian task force was on manoeuvres.

The MoD refused to comment when contacted by The News today.

As reported, it follows a similar incident in December 2011 when several ships from the Baltic Fleet arrived 30 miles off the Moray Firth, including the huge aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the anti-submarine warfare ship Admiral Chabanenko and escort the Yaroslav Mudryy.

The Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN reported at the time that the fleet was on route to Syria and took shelter in the Moray Firth when faced with deteriorating weather conditions. ­

However, some ­commentators ­believe that the country is ­testing Britain’s response times to such an incursion.

The 2011 incident was the first time a vessel the size of the 65,000-tonne Kuznetsov had deployed near UK waters and the closest a Russian task force had sailed to the UK in two decades, according to the minutes of a parliamentary debate on the subject this month.

That incident also saw ships allegedly dumping food waste into the water, which although allowed when more than 12 miles offshore, was described by one local MP as ‘fly-tipping’ and ‘bad manners’.

The SNP has been critical of the scrapping of the Nimrod fleet, leaving the UK with no dedicated maritime patrol aircraft. The party also highlighted the fact that there are no warships based in Scotland to respond to such an incident.

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