Portsmouth warship sent to shadow Russian Navy destroyer near British waters

Seen here in the foreground, the Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov, accompanied by HMS Dragon in the background.   Picture: Royal Navy
Seen here in the foreground, the Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov, accompanied by HMS Dragon in the background. Picture: Royal Navy

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The Royal Navy has sent a Portsmouth-based warship to track a Russian naval vessel as it approached British waters, it has been revealed.

HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, tracked and met up with the Vice Admiral Kulakov, a large Russian destroyer, as it sailed past the UK.

Sailors on board the Royal Navy ship pinpointed and monitored the Russian vessel as she approached British waters.

The Ministry of Defence has said the scrambling of the destroyer to the waters off Scotland was a ‘well-established and standard response to such events’.

It has been revealed tonight that the ship left Portsmouth last week to get into position well north of Scotland in good time to respond to the Udaloy-class destroyer’s deployment.

She has since made contact with the Kulakov and is now keeping an eye on the Russian ship’s transit south.

Captain Iain Lower, the commanding officer of HMS Dragon, said: ‘For a mission like this, it is not about sending any ship.

‘We need speed, we need endurance, and as the weather can be atrocious, sea-keeping is all important.

‘The Russian Navy is a very capable force and it is right the Royal Navy sends a ship that is credible and none are more so than the Type 45 destroyer.

‘With the world’s best air defence radars, Dragon’s sensors are able to monitor UK airspace and sea lanes of communication at very long range.’

Earlier today, it was revealed British military aircraft were scrambled to investigate Russian planes which flew close to UK airspace.

Officials at the Ministry of Defence said Typhoon aircraft were dispatched from Scottish base RAF Leuchars after the Russian presence was detected.

A defence spokesman said: ‘Typhoon quick reaction alert aircraft were launched today from RAF Leuchars to determine the identity of unknown aircraft that approached the Nato air policing area north of Scotland and could not be identified by other means.

‘The aircraft were subsequently identified as Russian military aircraft. The Russian military aircraft remained in international airspace at all times as they are perfectly entitled to do so.

‘Russian military flights have never entered UK sovereign airspace without authorisation.’

Similar incidents happened eight times during 2013, an MoD spokesman said.

As reported in The News, sailors on board HMS Defender were similarly scrambled just before Christmas after Russian ships took shelter from bad weather in the Moray Firth.

Vice Admiral Kulakov, the Russian ship being tracked by HMS Dragon, visited Portsmouth in 2012.

The ship welcomed visitors on board and paid tribute to the city’s war dead at the cenotaph in Guildhall Square.