Royal Navy Type 45 HMS Defender scrambled to shadow Russian fleet of warships near Britain

A WARSHIP from Portsmouth is today stalking a large fleet of Russian warships as it sails along the British coastline, the Royal Navy has revealed.

Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 11:41 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 12:45 pm
HMS Defender and frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the background as her helicopter lands on deck
Photo: Royal Navy
HMS Defender and frigate Admiral Gorshkov in the background as her helicopter lands on deck Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Defender was scrambled into action over the weekend and keep watch on the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and three auxiliary ships as they passed close to UK territorial waters.

The sophisticated Type 45 destroyer is monitoring the Russian task group and keeping track of their activity in areas of ‘national interest’, the navy said.

Mark Lancaster, armed forces minister, said: ‘The Royal Navy is always standing ready to defend the UK.

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‘We will continue to work with our allies to shadow Russian ships passing through international waters close to our shores, to ensure the Russian navy follows the correct protocol on its journey.’

HMS Defender left Newcastle on Saturday to head north east of Scotland and meet the Russian task group in time for them to pass the UK coastline yesterday.

The group comprises of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, tug Nicolay Chiker, supply ship Elbrus and tanker Kama.

Commander Richard Hewitt, the Defender’s commanding officer, said: ‘The security of the seas around our coastline remains crucial to our national interests.

‘Escorting the Admiral Gorshkov has demonstrated the Royal Navy’s enduring commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake such tasking whenever it’s required.’

As a fleet unit preparing to deploy on operations, Defender stands ready to respond to a wide range of short notice tasks. These can range from search and rescue duties to maritime security patrols.

She is equipped with a Wildcat helicopter of Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadron.

The Sampson radar system on top of the ship’s main mast can track hundreds of contacts in the skies from hundreds of miles away. Her Sea Viper missile system can then intercept those targets at four times the speed of sound.

HMS Defender will continue to escort the Russian naval task group this week as it passes through the English Channel.