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Royal Navy shadows Russian warships in English Channel

The Royal Navy (RN) reported on its website on 26 March that nine of its vessels had completed a “concentrated operation” shadowing seven Russian warships in the English Channel and North Sea. The development came as RN specialists and planners and other UK armed services were preparing to assist the country’s National Health Service (NHS) and government departments to counter the Covid-19 outbreak.

        (foreground) shadowing the Russian corvette
        (background) in waters around the UK.
       (Crown Copyright)

HMS Tyne (foreground) shadowing the Russian corvette Steregushchiy (background) in waters around the UK. (Crown Copyright)

The Russian flotilla consisted of three of its latest Project 20380 Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Project 775 Ropucha-class landing ships, and two Project 11365 Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, plus auxiliary ships and tugs. Russia’s Baltic Fleet announced on 21 March that a strike group including Steregushchiy-class corvettes had carried out missile firing, anti-ship, anti-submarine, air defence and counter-terrorist exercises in the middle of the North Sea.

RN Type 23 frigates HMS Kent, HMS Sutherland, HMS Argyll and HMS Richmond, joined by offshore patrol vessels HMS Tyne and HMS Mersey , along with Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Tideforce, Tidespring and hydrographic survey ship HMS Echo monitored the group, supported by allies. The vessels tracked the Russian warships around the British Isles supported by Merlin and Wildcat helicopters of 814 and 815 Naval Air Squadrons flew over the warships. HMS Tyne was involved for more than a week.

HMS Tyne executive officer Lieutenant Nick Ward said, “As the armed forces are helping the NHS to save lives, it’s our core business to uphold the security of the UK.”

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