Royal Navy warships monitor Russian vessels sailing close to UK

Royal Navy warships have continued to shadow a Russian task force travelling near in waters close to the UK.

Type 23 frigates HMS Westminster, HMS Lancaster and HMS Richmond, according to the Royal Navy, have been on a "concerted operation" shadowing the Russian Navy task force.

This follows the news last month that Portsmouth-based patrol vessel HMS Mersey shadowed Russian tanker Akademik Pashin through the English Channel.

The three warships have been tracking the movements of the Slava-class cruiser, Marshal Ustinov – the sister ship of the Moskva which sunk in the Black Sea in April – and Udaloy-class destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov, plus their tanker Vyazma.

The Russian task group have been making their journey home from the eastern Mediterranean after supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine since February.

"Cutting-edge sensors" and modern naval technology was used by the frigates and their helicopters to ensure they were able to keep a close watch in the Celtic Sea and through the English Channel.

"Maritime security in the sea areas around the UK is crucial to our prosperity and resilience," said HMS Westminster's Commanding Officer, Commander Ed Moss-Ward. "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 they paused, dispersing up to 60 nautical miles while Marshal Ustinov was refuelled by the tanker Vyazma. HMS Richmond was called upon to keep watch in the English Channel.

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

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