Royal Navy shadowing Russian warships in the Channel and North Sea
The Royal Navy has been tracking seven Russian warships after detecting “unusually high levels” of activity in the Channel and North Sea.
“The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea,” the Royal Navy said.
Nine UK warships were involved in last week’s shadowing effort, Sky News reported, with the support of Merlin and Wildcat helicopters of 814 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons.
The Russian flotilla comprised three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates.
The Russian operations come as the Royal Navy prepares to assist the NHS with tackling the coronavirus outbreak along with the rest of the armed forces.
The exercises raised concerns that some countries could use the coronavirus epidemic to exploit otherwise distracted nations.
Lieutenant Nick Ward, executive officer of HMS Tyne, which tracked the Russian ships through the channel for a week, told Sky:
“As the Armed Forces are helping the NHS save lives in the UK, it’s essential the Navy continues to deliver the tasks we have always performed to help keep Britain safe.
Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime
“This is our core business and represents an enduring commitment to uphold the security of the UK.”
Lieutenant Hannah Lee, operations office aboard HMS Sutherland, which was also involved in the effort, said:
“Our successful integration into the maritime group proves our ability to adapt to task group operations at short notice.
“Having proved we can work together and contributed once again to NATO operations, we now look to return to UK national tasks in support of the very highest defence priorities.”
Last week the Ministry of Defence announced that it would put an additional 10,000 military personnel at a higher readiness and place Reserves on standby to support public services as part of a new “Covid Support Force””, defence secretary Ben Wallace announced.
Wallace said: “The men and women of our armed forces stand ready to protect Britain and her citizens from all threats, including COVID-19.
“The unique flexibility and dedication of the services means that we are able to provide assistance across the whole of society in this time of need”.