HMS Richmond, a Type 23 frigate, is escorting the Russian carrier group which is understood to be heading to the Mediterranean Sea.
The frigate sailed from the Shetland Islands after conducting routine training exercises and Maritime Security Operations.
The Russian Task Group, which includes the sole Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, the nuclear powered Kirov Class Battlecruiser, Pyotr Velikiy and two Udaloy Class Destroyers, Vice Admiral Kulakov and Severomorsk sailed from Russia on Saturday.
The carrier battle group is expected to pass through the English Channel later this week, where it will be met by a Type 45 Destroyer.
It was reported that the Kremlin will use the voyage as an opportunity for a show of strength as it passes Britain, with the vessel expected to launch aircraft off the British and French coasts.
A Royal Navy spokesperson:
“UK and NATO assets routinely monitor warships from other nations when they enter our area of interest and this will be no different.”
The carrier Admiral Kuznetsov’s main fixed-wing aircraft is the multi-role Sukhoi Su-33. The carrier also carries the Kamov Ka-27 and Kamov Ka-27S helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and small transport.
Claims that the Admiral Kuznetsov will be deployed to Syria to fight Islamic State had been met with scepticism.
According to TASS, a military-diplomatic source in Moscow said on Saturday:
“The General Staff has prepared a plan for involvement of the deck aircraft in delivering strikes on terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, where the crews will practice taking off the carrier to deliver strikes on ground targets.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, will be close to the Syrian shore so that the deck aircraft have enough fuel to complete the military tasks and return back.”
According to War is Boring here:
“Admiral Kuznetsov has never seen combat, nor would she be of much practical military use. The 55,000-ton carrier has a bow ramp, not steam catapults, requiring her aircraft to shed weight before taking off. This means her planes will go into combat with less fuel or bombs than the ground-based fighters Russia has already deployed to Syria.”
The author adds:
“Recent activity surrounding the Admiral Kuznetsov may indicate an upcoming combat deployment.”
During the voyage the Admiral Kuznetsov reportedly “will have about 15 fighters Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB and more than ten helicopters Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ka-31.”
While designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of Admiral Kuznetsov implies a mission different from that of either the United States Navy carriers or those of the Royal Navy.
The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ship is “heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser”.