British submarine hunter HMS Portland was on watch as cruise missile submarine Severodvinsk and Akula-class attack submarine Vepr made their underwater journey south along the Norwegian coast from the Arctic.
The Type 23 frigate shadowed the sub as they surfaced separately in the North Sea, north west of Bergen, Norway, on July 16 and 19.
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It’s believed the pair of boats, which are armed to the teeth, were heading to St Petersburg to take part in Russia’s navy day celebrations on July 31.
Plymouth-based Portland and her specialist Merlin helicopter – both equipped with cutting-edge sonars, sensors and torpedoes for submarine-hunting operations – reported on the movements of the Russian Northern Fleet vessels.
The operation comes amid simmering tensions between the West and Russia over Vladimir Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine and followed soon after Portland took part in Nato’s premiere submarine-hunting drill.
Commander Tim Leeder, Portland’s captain, said: ‘Our success on operations marks the culmination of many months of specialist training and exercises.
‘Critically, the cohesiveness of Royal Navy, RAF and our allies capabilities ensures that we are capable of conducting and sustaining these types of anti-submarine operations in the North Atlantic.
‘It is testament to my sailors’ dedication and professionalism, alongside that of our allies, that we are able to conduct this strategically crucial role.’
Earlier this week, First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key said Russia’s war underscored the importance of having a strong navy equipped to react to any threat.
It came as the top sailor warned of the mounting threat China posed, with its growing navy expected to soon become the biggest in the world – surpassing the United States as the globe’s dominant maritime force.
While he warned ‘Putin has, through his actions, created a new Iron Curtain from the Baltic to the Black Sea… focussing solely on the Russian bear risks missing the tiger in the room’.
He continued: ‘The world has woken up to the risks that Russia’s invasion poses, and the need for nations to meet their Nato spending targets as a matter of urgency.
‘Today we see Russia as the clear and present danger, but China will pose the greater long-term challenge.
‘Having overestimated some of Moscow’s military capabilities, we can’t now risk underestimating those of Beijing.’
Speaking during a conference in London, Adm Key said it was critical the UK and its allies keep a focus on the Indo-Pacific.
‘We find ourselves in a time when the geopolitical landscape is changing before our eyes,’ he added. ‘We’re seeing increased state-on-state tensions, and transnational issues like the pandemic and climate change which are driving us to adapt.
‘The reality for us in the Royal Navy, is that recent events haven’t knocked us off course. We’re already modernising and transforming the Royal Navy, we’ve cut back on duplication, invested in automation and freed up more people for the front line.’