BRITAIN’S newest patrol ship has been deployed for the first time to monitor a Russian warship in the English Channel.
HMS Medway was called in to track the movements of veteran cruiser Marshal Ustinov as she sailed from the North Sea, past Dover and into the Channel.
Dispatched from Portsmouth, Medway spent 36 hours shadowing Ustinov before handing over to the Marine Nationale as the Russian warship continued south past France.
The mission – Medway’s first call to sea since becoming operational – was the second time in a week the navy has been forced to track a foreign vessel in British waters.
Ustinov’s journey is the latest activity in home waters prompted by Russia’s annual navy day event in St Petersburg, after which participating warships have spread out across Europe.
Last week Medway’s sister ship HMS Forth sailed from Gibraltar to shadow the patrol vessel Vasily Bykov, also fresh from maritime celebrations in St Petersburg.
Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Westminster also shadowed a Chinese guided missile destroyer, Xian.
‘This has been Medway’s first operational tasking – we picked up the Ustinov on Wednesday and handed over to the French last night,’ said Commander Ben Power, Medway’s captain.
‘It was a good opportunity to display the flexibility, speed and reach of the new offshore patrol vessels whilst conducting what for the Royal Navy are routine escort duties.’
Medway, which only raised the White Ensign for the first time in March, is the second of five second-generation River-class ships being built for the Royal Navy to safeguard home waters but also deploy around the globe.