Royal Navy frigate HMS Westminster hunts for Russian submarines in the Atlantic

A ROYAL Navy frigate has braved brutal Atlantic storms and the icy waters of the Arctic Circle to hunt for Russian submarines lurking in the deep.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 1:31 pm

HMS Westminster spent the autumn in the grey wastes of the Atlantic on its mission to protect Britain’s borders from spies and hostile boats..

Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, the Portsmouth-based warship is at the tip of the spear in the navy’s war against submarines.

The heavily-armed vessel’s trip to the ‘high north’ is part of the Senior Service’s new strategy to protect the region from superpowers like Russia and China.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Merlin's aircrewman looks down on Westminster during her Atlantic patrol

The plan was revealed by the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin a year ago, who feared the two nations could ‘exploit’ the region as climate change opens up new shipping routes.

Commander Louise Ray, HMS Westminster’s captain, said the Type 23 was a critical piece in Britain’s jigsaw puzzle of defence.

‘While the UK pivots towards the Indo-Pacific, HMS Westminster remains tasked with the defence of home waters,’ Cdr Ray said.

‘Being able to rely on our local partner nations to host and help sustain us during this much needed logistics stop is vital to maintaining the freedom of manoeuvre in the north Atlantic.’

Westminster arrives in Hamburg.

Read More

Read More
Royal Navy: HMS Queen Elizabeth's maiden mission to the Far East a 'huge success...

Over the past few years, the Royal Navy has seen a worrying surge in the number of incidents with Russian warships operating around the coast - with fears over the nation’s submarine force continuing to increase.

Armed forces minister James Heappey insisted it was critical the UK deployed to the Arctic Circle to defend future shipping lanes, which could soon be worth trillions of pounds to the global economy.

Speaking to The News last year, he said: ‘The high north and Arctic region is vitally important to our security of the UK, as well as some of our closest allies in Scandinavia, the Baltic region and northern Europe.

A crisp dawn rises on HMS Westminster during its stint in the Arctic.

‘Deployments such as this, as well as our active engagement in the northern group and leadership of the joint expeditionary force, demonstrate to our allies and adversaries alike that the UK will be forward-leaning in supporting the security and stability of the region.’

As part of its mission, HMS Westminster has been sharing its submarine-hunting skills with other nations.

The vessel joined forces with the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Van Amstel during a training drill off the Scottish coast.

Westminster launched robot devices: EMATTs – Expendable Mobile Acoustic Training Targets – which replicate the noise signature of a submarine and mirror their movements.

The pair of warships then used their set of sensors to track the targets through the night, mimicking how Westminster would shadow a real-life submarine.

On top of this, the Portsmouth ship also linked up with the newest addition to Britain’s submarine-hunting arsenal, the Poseidon P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Westminster worked with the plane, and its US equivalent operating from Keflavik in Iceland, to cast a wide net hunting for submarines at range.

Having concluded operations, Westminster is now looking ahead to her major refit, due to take place in the next year or so.

Looking for the latest Royal Navy updates from Portsmouth? Join our new Royal Navy news Facebook group to keep up to date.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, with 70 per cent fewer adverts for less than 20p a day.