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Royal Navy shadows Russian warships as they pass near UK waters

As the Russian Navy Task Force passed through waters near the UK, three Royal Navy warships accompanied it.

HMS Westminster and HMS Lancaster, all Type 23 frigates tracked Marshal Ustinov, a Russian-class cruiser of the Slava-class, as he returned to Russia from supporting President Vladimir Putin’s invasion in Ukraine.

Marshal Ustinov was accompanied on his journey by Vice-Admiral Kulakov, a Udaloy-class destroyer, and tanker Vyazma.

This cruiser is the sister ship to Moskva. Russia claims it sank in a storm following a fire that detonated ammunition aboard.


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HMS Mersey, a patrol ship, also shadowed the Russian military research vessel Akademik Ioffe as it traveled south through Dover shipping lanes to the Channel.

Commander Ed Moss Ward, HMS Westminster’s CO, stated that maritime security in the UK’s sea areas is critical to our resilience and prosperity.

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

“Escorting a Russian task force has shown that the Royal Navy is committed both to maritime security and cooperation with NATO allies,”

Royal Navy operation

NATO’s Atlantic fast response task force, HMS Lancaster, shadowed Russian ships from the Strait of Gibraltar up to the Celtic Sea.

HMS Westminster was deployed from Portsmouth to intercept Russian ships in the Celtic Sea. Marshal Ustinov was then refueled by the tanker Vyazma.

HMS Richmond remained on guard in the English Channel.

Image HMS Westminster, pictured in the foreground, watches cruiser Marshal Urstinov
Image HMS Westminster watches the Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov, and tanker Vyazma, during refuelling operation

Commander Tom Johnson, CO of HMS Lancaster said that working together allowed NATO allies to quickly respond to security threats and collectively deter potential aggressors.

“Exchanging personnel further strengthens NATO cohesion, interoperability, so that the alliance can quickly and efficiently respond to any threat.

“Lancaster’s team works extremely hard to ensure that we are always prepared to respond to any threat at any time.”


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