TEETH of the Royal Navy’s top submarine-hunters have been sharpened in a bid to counter the looming threat of Russia’s resurgent underwater fleet.
Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans and hunter-killer sub HMS Astute have gone head to head in a battle of wits during a training exercise.
It comes as fears over the number of Russian submarines operating around UK waters and in the Atlantic continue to mount.
The training exercise was a vital chance for the two sub-killers to go against each other and test their ability to deal with the threat they pose on the battlefield.
Commander John Cromie, commanding officer of St Albans, said: ‘To be the best at what we do, it is essential that we train both against and alongside the very best.
‘HMS Astute provides that partner with whom we can polish our skills to the highest level.’
This latest training exercise took place in a Scottish loch.
It was seen as a way for the navy to refine how it tackles with submarine threats.
Both the vessels form part of the navy’s fleet of submarine hunters.
The Astute class – of which Clyde-based HMS Astute was the first in the line – is the largest, most advanced and powerful attack submarines ever operated by Britain.
Equipped with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles, it is capable of dealing with threats above and below the water.
While St Albans is packed with specialist sonar and torpedoes designed to counter any submarine threat.
The exercise comes off the back of warnings by a senior US military commander over the growing danger posed by Russia’s increasing the size of its underwater fleet.
Admiral James Foggo, who heads Nato’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, said Russia is investing heavily in its submarine fleet and wants to build an ‘asymmetric’ threat to Nato.
The comments came after Rear Admiral Jerry Kyd raised his concerns over Russia’s naval aggression.
Rear Adm Kyd - who was speaking earlier this year while in command of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth - said: ‘The increase in Russian activity we have seen in the last couple of years is frightening.
‘For national security reasons, it just underlines why we need to maintain a balanced, strong, able and capable fleet.’
Following training exercise in Scotland, HMS St Albans will return to her primary role as one of the Royal Navy’s highest readiness warships.
The frigate is regularly on duty protecting the integrity of UK waters.
Most recently, St Albans shadowed a Russian warship through the English Channel.
The Slava-class cruiser, the Marshall Ustinov, was escorted by allied French naval vessels through the Bay of Biscay before Portsmouth-based warship took over the watch.