Russian sub incursions a ‘new norm’

The new commanding officer of HMS Collingwood, Captain Rob Vitali. Picture: Keith Woodland/MoD

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RUSSIAN submarine incursions into Britsh waters and the north Atlantic is the new norm, the UK’s top naval officer has said.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, spoke of the threats faced by the Royal Navy, during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute.

Warning that today’s armed forces ‘must work in an increasingly complex battle space’, he said the ‘degree of superiority at sea’ which Western navies previously enjoyed post Cold War is diminishing, as the space they operate in becomes more congested.

‘You don’t need to look very far to see rising and resurgent powers flex their muscles,’ he said. ‘It’s now clear that the peaks of Russian submarine activity that we’ve seen in the north Atlantic in recent years are the new norm.

‘The same is true of the steady stream of vessels passing the UK on their way to join the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea fleets.’

The Admiral’s comments come just days after the navy revealed it had been shadowing a Russian destroyer through British waters for the second weekend running.

He added there are currently almost 500 submarines being operated in the world’s oceans by more than 40 navies.

Sir Philip also highlighted how China’s navy now routinely deploys to the Middle East, Somali Basin and Gulf of Guinea, with Russian-Chinese naval exercises regularly being staged in the Baltic.

‘Our response cannot simply be to avoid operating in these environments; we don’t have that luxury,’ he said.

‘Areas of enclosed water, like the Baltic and the Persian Gulf, are essential to global security today, and will remain so.’

With the commissioning into the navy of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth just two weeks away, he said aircraft carriers are a ‘strategic instrument indicative of an ocean-going navy and a global maritime power’.