A Royal Navy warship has escorted a Russian naval task group as it travelled through the English Channel and along the east coast of the UK.
HMS Somerset, a Type 23 frigate, along with its Merlin helicopter, was used to detect and monitor the Russian destroyer and its support ships as they transited through the UK area of responsibility last Wednesday until Tuesday when they sailed off from the Scottish coast heading back towards Russia.
The Russian task group, including the Udaloy class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov accompanied by a tanker and a tug, were returning from a deployment to Syria.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “HMS Somerset was on a training mission when she received the call to locate and escort the Russian units. As with other Royal Navy ships operating around the UK, HMS Somerset was at a high state of alert to deal with any maritime security task, including the monitoring of transits through the UK area of responsibility by non-Nato warships.
“Somerset intercepted the task group off Brest as it approached the south west of the UK and escorted it through UK waters until they turned for home, after spending the Easter weekend off the east coast of Scotland.
“The group carried out an under way replenishment in the North Sea and off the Scottish coast outside of UK territorial waters.
“The operation involved collaboration with Nato forces, with the French ship La Motte-Picquet and Netherlands ship Friesland also tracking the Russian task group as it passed French and Dutch waters respectively.
“HMS Somerset kept a watchful eye on the ships as they anchored in international waters, 20 miles from land in the Moray Firth to avoid Storm Katie.”
Commander Michael Wood, commanding officer of Plymouth-based HMS Somerset, said: “This transit was 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.”
It was not the Russian ships’ first visit to UK waters as the Vice Admiral Kulakov paid a goodwill visit to Portsmouth in August 2012.
Russian warships of the northern and Baltic fleets routinely passage through UK area waters en route to deployments in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.