Royal Navy warships shadow Russian attack submarine as tensions between UK and Moscow flare up over 'Russia Report'

A RUSSIAN attack submarine has been shadowed by a pair of Royal Navy warships as tensions between Moscow and Whitehall boiled over this week.

Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 11:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 11:06 am

Diesel-powered hunter-killer, Krasnodar, was flanked by Portsmouth-based patrol ships HMS Tyne and HMS Mersey as she skirted past the UK.

The boat – built by the Soviet Union in the1980s towards the end of the Cold War – had been carrying out a ‘surfaced transit’ from the eastern Mediterranean, with ocean-going tug Sergey Balk in support.

She was spotted off the coast of Ushant Island in Brittany, north-west France, on Sunday and was first followed by French frigate FS Enseigne de vaisseau Jacoubet.

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The Russian Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar during HMS Tyne's operation to monitor the vessel in the English Channel

Tyne took over monitoring duties at the south-western end of the English Channel after the French Navy tracked the boat through the Bay of Biscay.

After sailing the Channel, sister ship Mersey took over duties as the Russians headed through the Strait of Dover and into the North Sea on Monday.

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Portsmouth-based HMS Mersey shadows the Russian Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar. Photo: Royal Navy

The long-awaited Russian Report lifted the lid on alleged Russian interference with the Brexit vote in 2016 and the Scottish Referendum vote two years earlier.

The 50-page study also claimed the UK government and security services had ‘actively avoided’ investigating the Kremlin’s involvement in British politics.

The transit of the former Soviet submarine is the latest in a string of activity by Russian warship near UK waters.

Lieutenant Justin Shirtcliff, HMS Tyne’s operations officer, downplayed the operation and described it as a ‘routine undertaking’.

Russian Kilo-class submarine Krasnodar pictured in the background with HMS Mersey, front and centre. Photo: Royal Navy

He added: ‘Tyne responded in a coordinated effort with allies to shadow the Russian submarine and her escort while transiting the English Channel.’

Lieutenant Commander Will Edwards-Bannon, HMS Mersey’s commanding officer, added there had been a ‘seamless coordination’ between the allied nations which was ‘impressive’ to see.

‘I am very proud of the disciplined way in which my ship’s company has responded to the challenge of maintaining our readiness for operations through the challenges of Covid-19 which, along with the support we receive from our families, has enabled Mersey to once again successfully play our part in protecting our nation’s interests,’ he said.

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