Royal Navy frigates shadow Russian warships close to UK waters

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Three Royal Navy warships have been shadowing a Russian Navy task force in waters close to the UK.

Type 23 frigates HMS Westminster, HMS Lancaster and HMS Richmond tracked Slava-class cruiser, Marshal Ustinov, the sister ship of the ill-fated Moskva which sunk in the Black Sea in April.

They have also been keeping a watch on Udaloy-class destroyer, Vice-Admiral Kulakov and tanker Vyazma as the three ships headed home from the eastern Mediterranean after supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since February.

At the same time, patrol ship HMS Mersey has also shadowed Russian military research vessel Akademik Ioffe on its journey south through the Dover shipping lanes into the Channel.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “The frigates and their helicopters used an array of cutting-edge sensors and modern naval technology to keep close watch in the Celtic Sea and through the English Channel.”

HMS Westminster’s commanding officer (CO) Commander Ed Moss-Ward said: “Maritime security in the sea areas around the UK is crucial to our prosperity and resilience.

“The Royal Navy routinely responds to escort warships in UK territorial waters and the adjacent sea areas to ensure compliance with maritime law, to deter malign activity and to protect our national interests.

“Escorting the Russian task group has demonstrated that the Royal Navy is committed to maintaining maritime security and to co-operating with our Nato allies.”

HMS Lancaster shadowed the Russian ships from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Celtic Sea as part of Nato’s fast response task force in the Atlantic.

HMS Westminster deployed from Portsmouth to intercept the Russian ships in the Celtic Sea where the Marshal Ustinov was refuelled by the tanker Vyazma while HMS Richmond kept watch in the English Channel.

Commander Tom Johnson, CO of HMS Lancaster, said: “Working together allows Nato allies to respond to security challenges at pace and collectively deter potential aggressors.

“Exchange of personnel further deepens Nato cohesion and interoperability so that the alliance can swiftly and efficiently react to any threat.”

Lancaster’s team work exceptionally hard to ensure we are always ready to respond to any threat at a moment’s notice.”

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