Three British Type 23 frigates shadow Russian warships near UK

Three Royal Navy warships have been on a concerted operation 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, Udaloy-class destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, and their tanker Vyazma.

HMS Westminster maintaining a vigilant watch on RFN Cruiser Marshal Ustinov; Photo: Royal Navy

Marshal Ustinov is the sister ship of the ill-fated Moskva which sunk in the Black Sea in April this year during one of the attacks as part of the Russian-Ukraine war. The Ukrainian Armed Forces revealed that the ship was hit by the Neptune missiles, causing serious damage to the hull.

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The British ships tracked the Russian task group as they made their journey home from the eastern Mediterranean.

The frigates and their helicopters used an array of sensors and modern naval technology to keep a close watch in the Celtic Sea and through the English Channel.

“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 Westminster’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward, said.

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 (Standing NATO Maritime Task Group 1).

HMS Westminster deployed from Portsmouth to intercept the Russian ships in the Celtic Sea, where they paused, dispersing up to 60 nautical miles while Marshal Ustinov was refueled by the tanker Vyazma.

HMS Westminster watching RFN Cruiser Marshal Ustinov; Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Richmond was called upon to keep watch in the English Channel.

HMS Richmond in the background shadowing the Russian destroyer Kulakov; Photo: Royal Navy

“At short notice, HMS Richmond intercepted the Russian Federation Navy’s Surface Action Group in the English Channel. We will closely monitor the task group’s activity whilst demonstrating the UK’s resolve, and the capability and professionalism of the Royal Navy,” Commanding Officer, Commander Chris L’Amie said.

Meanwhile, as this operation was underway, Royal Navy patrol ship HMS Mersey shadowed Russian military research vessel Akademik Ioffe on its journey south through the Dover shipping lanes and into the Channel.

Earlier on, at the end of August, Royal Navy warship HMS Mersey tacked the movements of the Russian Navy’s tanker Akademik Pashin through the Channel towards the North Atlantic.

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Photo: HMS Westminster maintaining a vigilant watch on RFN Cruiser Marshal Ustinov; Royal Navy