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Royal Navy shadows Russian warships through the Channel

Library image: Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland. Naval ships set sail this week as the lead element of the Cougar 11 deployment. HMS Albion, HMS Sutherland, and RFA Cardigan Bay, together with elements of 40 Commando Royal Marines, will leave for the Mediterranean and Middle East from Devonport and from Marchwood in Southampton between 6 and 8 April. Their long planned deployment as part of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG) will see them transit through the Mediterranean where they will take part in multi-national amphibious exercises before moving further east through the Suez canal for further exercises in the Indian Ocean. This deployment is not linked to events in Libya, which involve other elements of the UK Armed Forces. The ships and their embarked Commando will be deploying on Cougar 11 to develop and demonstrate contingent capability for UK defence - in effect, the ability to respond to short notice tasking across a diverse range of defence activities such as disaster relief, humanitarian aid, or amphibious operations. All of these are capabilities that are regularly required of a versatile maritime force. The Task Group is commanded from the Fleet Flagship, HMS Albion, by Commodore John Kingwell Royal Navy, Commander United Kingdom Task Group.

HMS Sutherland

Seven Russian warships have been shadowed by the Royal Navy after “unusually high levels of activity”.

The Russian vessels were monitored as they passed through the North Sea and English Channel.


Britain’s Senior Service used nine warships with state-of-the-art radar, cameras and sensors to track the Russians.

They were supported by Merlin and Wildcat helicopters of 814 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons.

HMS Tyne – a River-class patrol ship – kept a close eye on the Russians as they passed the south coast.

Lieutenant Nick Ward, HMS Tyne executive officer, said:

“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.

“This is our core business and represents an enduring commitment to uphold the security of the UK.”

The navy observed three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates.

HMS Sutherland watched on as the Merlin helicopter carried out a number of intelligence-gathering sorties over the Russian ships as they passed through the Channel.

HMS Sutherland’s operations officer, Lieutenant Hannah Lee, 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.”



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