TWO Russian warships have been shadowed by a Royal Navy frigate as they approached the English Channel.
HMS Montrose sailed up the Channel to meet with corvettes RFS Boikiy and Stoikiy as the Russian vessels sortied from their base in the Baltic and entered the North Sea.
Montrose worked alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to track the two vessels as they manoeuvred in some of the most congested waters in the world.
The 4,200-tonne British warship met the pair – both Steregushchiy-class corvettes – and monitored their progress off the Danish and Dutch coasts.
After crossing the bulk of the North Sea, the corvettes dramatically cut their speed and slowly proceeded towards the north Norfolk coast under the watchful eyes of the British frigate at the end of last week.
Among the team following the movements of the Russian duo was 23-year-old warfare specialist Leading Seaman Jack Shanley, who was monitoring the suite of high-tech sensors in HMS Montrose’s operations room.
He said: ‘I’ve been in the Royal Navy for four and a half years and this type of operation is exactly what I joined for.’
Montrose has recently emerged from a £38m refit, followed by extensive trials and training, culminating in the successful firing of the UK’s new state-of-art air defence system, Sea Ceptor.
For this mission, the frigate is also equipped with a new Fleet Air Arm Wildcat helicopter from 825 Naval Air Squadron, based at Yeovilton in Somerset. It was sent aloft to record images of the Stoikiy and Boikiy.
‘Royal Navy warships are always prepared to respond to tasking at short notice, so when the call came, Montrose was ready for action,’ said Commander Conor O’Neill, Montrose’s commanding officer.
‘The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, with the support of our NATO allies, constantly monitor the seas and skies around the UK, and our operations are part of that 24/7 watch to ensure the UK stays safe and secure.’
While Montrose followed the progress of the Russian ships, the RAF provided air support to watch over the operation.
Montrose is based in Plymouth. She is due to move to Portsmouth in the early 2020s following a shake-up of where the currently fleet of 13 Type 23 frigates are based.