Frigate HMS St Albans has shadowed a Chinese warship through the English Channel.

The Type 23 frigate was shadowing the Chinese destroyer Xian as it sails east past the UK.

Commander John Cromie, the Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, said in a release issued on the 14th of this month:

“Today HMS St Albans, conducting routine maritime security operations, is monitoring the progress of the Xian as she transits close to the UK coastline.

This is normal business for the Royal Navy, keeping watch over UK waters at all times. HMS St Albans is one of several warships standing ready to respond at short notice to help keep Britain safe.”

Since 2016, say the Royal Navy, HMS St Albans has been tasked with a number of maritime security operations in UK waters.

She has monitored the passage of several foreign warships through the English Channel and conducted anti-submarine operations in the north Atlantic.

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Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Not quite sure when HMG understands that we will have very big problems on our hands if we do not bolster our defence budget and set aside monies from our overseas aid budget. Both Russia and China are becoming a very real problem, start purchasing NSM’s for our current fleet as well as the land-based option. And of course, start building our next generation of warships and aircraft quickly and in sufficient numbers to counter any threats. As I’ve mentioned before, Gripen E/F at a fraction of the cost of the F-35 and Typhoon would give us a credible amount… Read more »

Ian
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Ian

Could not agree more. The Gripen option would be the perfect fit of a lower cost aircraft with EJ2000 engines.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

The RAF does Not need another fast jet apart, from the Typhoon and F-35B! If the RAF needs a F-35B for extended range the ‘lift-fan’ could be removed from a F-35B, stored and re-fitted when necessary needed, and a fuel tank and weights fitted in a container to adjust centre of gravity, to be fitted in the space vacated by the lift-fan? This adaptation would give the F-35B the same range as the F-35A. The converted F-35B’s would be use by the RAF for conventional take-off and landing. No need to purchase a whole new logistics trail if procuring another… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

I was under the impression that removing the lift fan and installing a fuel tank would upset the balance of the aircraft, so not possible? Do you have a link which clears this up?

Sean
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Sean

The Hawk is getting long in the tooth so maybe use Gripen as a replacement trainer that can be armed if a major conflict kicks off. Otherwise it makes more sense to stick to F35B and Typhoon as a 5th and 4th generation pairing.

Simon
Guest
Simon

What fraction do you believe Gripen E/F would be in relation to F-35?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

E. Air policing role, Ground attack, using standoff weapons. F. Electronic warfare (Growler) plus controlling future drones. Much lower maintenance costs compared to Typhoon and F-35. Airframe hours saved on both Typhoon and F-35B. F-35 will be dated come 2030 when we will receive our current final order. The F-35B is required for carrier operations, and Tempest will arrive in the early 2030’s. “Several years ago the Gripen pilots got tired of being made fun of by German Typhoon pilots and came to play with their wartime electronic warfare and gave them a hell of a hard time,” Bronk said.… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

E Model is designed to enable quick integration of various weapons. This is partly made possible by Gripen E’s flexible avionic architecture. Meteor and Spear 3 will not complete testing on the F-35 until 2025 at the earliest. That’s if Block 4 software is still on track so I understand? And of course, very flexible! “Gripen E has weapons for all types of missions, such as stand-off precision strike using guided glide bombs, heavy anti-ship and deep strike missiles, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles such as Meteor. Gripen E can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special… Read more »

Simon
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Simon

I’m definately PRO a hi-lo fleet and, as it happens, PRO Gripen too – it’s what I’d design as a single-engined fighter. Added to that the BAE/Saab link and the fact that we have a “D” for Empire. However, other than (as others have said) an expensive Hawk replacement, I don’t think we can afford another logistics and maintenance training pipeline. I would also question how much cheaper Gripen really is. It wasn’t that cheap when it took part into the Indian MRCA competition. So, how many Typhoon/F-35 would you trade on a 2:1 ratio? Bearing in mind there is… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

If there’s no money down the back of the sofa, how many F-35’s can we afford to buy?

L Zhang
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L Zhang

Are you suggesting that China is a threat to Britain? I’m Chinese and thought we were friends. Or is it you think China should be Britain’s enemy or Britain needs an enemy like China?

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Not quite sure when HMG understands that we will have very big problems on our hands if we do not bolster our defence budget and set aside monies from our overseas aid budget. Both Russia and China are becoming a very real problem, start purchasing NSM’s for our current fleet as well as the land-based option. And of course, start building our next generation of warships and aircraft quickly and in sufficient numbers to counter any threats. As I’ve mentioned before, Gripen E/F at a fraction of the cost of the F-35 and Typhoon would give us a credible amount… Read more »

BB85
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BB85

Out of curiosity what nations do we actually shadow through the channel? I take it anyone in Nato can go as they please? Apart from Russia and China do any other none nato countries send ships up our way?

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I imagine Sweden and Ireland might? Not sure we shadow them though.

Cam
Guest
Cam

Ireland has no real warships though. Can’t even crew a handful of OPVs.

James
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James

Ireland has several “real” warships that if Ireland was a threat to the UK the RN probably would shadow them. (I’m not speaking for the RN)

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Don’t Sweden sometimes join NATO on exercises? I think they’re probably too friendly with us to justify escorting them.

andy reeves
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andy reeves

chinese in the channel ee gads,quick send an opv out they’re used for following rusty ruskies why not the chinkies?

Nicholas
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Nicholas

Referring to the Chinese as “chinkies” is not very polite.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

Wait ‘til Boris has cemented his relationship with Trump and then all standards will drop

Barry Larking
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Barry Larking

It is offensive to a degree.

Lt Aldo Raine
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Lt Aldo Raine

Nice piece of racism there from this foolish bigot!

maurice10
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maurice10

If Russia and China step up patrols around our and others shores, we can not shadow with anything smaller than a frigate. This is not a duty for smaller vessels as to do otherwise would send the wrong messages. Some say the Type23’s are or will be past their sell-by date at the time 26’s come into service. I, however, would suggest that some are retained for shadowing duties? Unlike frontline vessels the retention of say, six Type 23’s with skeleton crews would serve this purpose adequately in a limited capacity?

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Dedicated sites along our coastline, plus mobile launch systems for NSM/JSM and CAMM would serve as enough deterrent to send OPV’s to shadow instead.
https://defense-update.com/20190404_soft-launch-delivers-a-hard-fist.html

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Very difficult to shoot ballistic missiles in ‘terminal phase’, easier to shoot them in ‘boost phase’, the Type 45 destroyer would be just the tool for this.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Not forgetting our airforce of course!

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

A total non-starter, it runs up against the same problems as mothballing them. Keeping six Type 23 means the maintenance and support contracts have to be run on for what is an increasingly elderly and difficult to maintain set of vessels. The training stream would also have to be maintained and crews found. Even if you deactivated all the high end weapon systems it would still be far more manpower heavy than a River class OPV. Also what message do you want sent? Frankly the rare occasions that the Russians or Chinese transit a vessel through the channel a low… Read more »

maurice10
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maurice10

Yes, Fedaykin you are correct about the costs, but I said if the two states step up their activities. There is growing evidence that both Russia and China will increase patrols around our islands, just as NATO is increasing patrols in SCS and the seas close to Russia. It’s simply tit for tat. However, with the RN under pressure to increase global reach, it will place considerable stresses on the current fleet. The naval reserve could man the 23’s, if a plan was instigated to be in place by the time Type26 come online? I don’t believe anything less than… Read more »

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

So? If they stick to international waters and keep to the rules of the road it frankly isn’t a big issue. The only reason they transit that route is to save fuel. I would hardly call it a patrol by them anyway, the intelligence value of such transits are vastly to our benefit not theirs. The route doesn’t take them close to anything sensitive in an intelligence sense for us. Whatever is to hand be it a Destroyer, Frigate, OPV or Mine Sweeper is perfectly adequate for keeping a watchful eye. Wasting money and resources putting something that is or… Read more »

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

Hmmm, interesting approach, however, the MOD doesn’t agree with you and nor do I. These sail by’s are a deliberate act of flag flying that goes back centuries of naval history, and viewed as physical demonstrations of intent. Strangely, any non-Chinese naval vessel that enters SCS, are monitored and physically challenged if they come too close to any of their manmade islands. These sailings are politically weighted, pure and simple.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Well I think the RN agrees with my position more than yours. If they stray off course then a challenge is perfectly reasonable but you don’t need something that flighty to do that. Some of these trips are flag saving like this Chinese jaunt but that doesn’t mean that their intentions are nefarious, they are a super power with a blue water navy with every right to deploy them internationally as they please. The recent Russian deployments to the med via the Channel have been all about saving fuel.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

Come on Fedaykin, it ain’t about saving fuel!

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Come on maurice10, look at a map! For a Russian vessel transiting from their Northern bases to the Med or the other way travelling via the channel is the fastest, safest most fuel efficient way. Any flag waving that is being done is secondary to those considerations.

maurice10
Guest
maurice10

The last word, it ain’t about saving fuel! Cheers.

Fedaykin
Guest
Fedaykin

Who says you get the last word…yes it is among other things! Cheers.

Dan Cohen
Guest
Dan Cohen

Do you really think if the Chinese or Russians were going to attack they’ll send one ship?
In my opinion one ship transit doesn’t even justify an escort planes will do the job just fine

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Personally, I think it would be better if we sent a couple of tugs to shadow the Russians. Well you never know, we could always claim salvage rights when then break down.

Andy
Guest
Andy

This is beautiful.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Notice that there was no fuss from HMG on this transit close to UK sovereign territory. Wait till a RN vessel or task group sails through the SCS and those glorified sandbars. The squalling that will emanate will be deafening.

Cheers

Dan
Guest
Dan

Maybe the Chinese will get the message from this that transiting warships through recognised international shipping lanes need not be construed as a hostile act. Probably not though….

L Zhang
Guest
L Zhang

Not sure about the UK. The US warships in SCS are not meant to be firendly act though.

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

I would not be so sure. It’s the British way. I remember when Ronald Reagan asked his allies to help protect shipping in the Gulf last time around. The Armilla Patrol had been quietly doing its job for years so professionally the legendary communicator in chief had not heard of it.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

I totally agree Helions!

Frank
Guest
Frank

PRC actions in building islands & bullying anyone sailing there are blatent international piracy . Their actions in Tibet & Xingang colonial cultural genocide.
We sholud be very careful who we treat as friends.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Does anybody know where the Xian is transitting too? I assume is is planning making a port visit.

I’m not surprised HMG has not mentioned this. They are probably looking for a some sort of post Brexit trading agreement with China. I’m Surprised we have not invited the Xian to visit one of our ports.

Meirion X
Guest
Meirion X

Most likely to one of Russia’s Baltic ports, Bob.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Looks as if it was travelling between France and Rotterdam.

Bob
Guest
Bob
David E Flandry
Guest
David E Flandry

Fifty years ago this would have been unthinkable, even thirty years ago. We had best get used to it, though.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

30 years ago the Chinese navy was not capable of it… or inclined to do so

WILLIAMS David
Guest
WILLIAMS David

I would have thought that a visit to a UK port or even to London would sensibly be welcomed in peacetime. Not sure the Chinese would risk giving their crews shore leave though.

James Harrington
Guest
James Harrington

Is it possible, looking at her basic configuration and closed stern, she did more than just transit? Is it possible or likely anything was dropped off during transit?

Frank
Guest
Frank

“HMS St Albans is one of several warships standing ready to respond at short notice to help keep Britain safe.”

Several? Probably 1 or 2 usually available with our tiny fleet but HMG wants to keep the public deluded that we still have numbers we lost years ago. The PLAN however has been building a credible fleet. Our 2 carriers will be far more credible if we had 5-10 more escorts.

David Williams
Guest
David Williams

Truth is the two carriers were in place of 5-10 more escorts. We simply do not have the manpower or spending for two carriers and additional frigates – this is what has delayed the Type 26 programme. Is there thinking that South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. might provide some of the additional escorts needed while we provide the modern carriers?

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

More hysteria. France Belgium Netherlands were at least 3 other NATO allies were other countries involved in this journey. Is the UK meant to defend all Europe’s sealanes from 1.5 billion marauding Chinamen? No doubt hysteria will go off the scale when this blog will report when this ship turns round and goes back. It may be worthwhile taking video if these ships out of curiosity and to see how smart they are and to see how much starch this captain puts in his collar – but i suggests its as easy to send an aircraft do a few fly… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

@ Trevor It’s not so much about hysteria, rather than the problems we will face given the current build rate of China’s Navy, and the potential modernisation of the Russian fleet too.

The question is simply, why are they expanding at such a pace?
We cannot keep relying on other nations when push comes to shove, Spain supporting US ships springs to mind!

“China’s Navy Is Growing So Fast It’s Running Out of Names For Its Warships”
https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/chinas-navy-growing-so-fast-its-running-out-names-its-warships-58692

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

China’s growth is as slow now compared to the 90s. That’s nearly 30 years. China does not walk on water. It’s growth is relatively high, but it still starts from a very low base. Many are in poverty and flankly others are effectively in servitude. Let them keep building ships if they want to.

Pete
Guest
Pete

There are some fundamental isdues driving Chinese expansionidm. Securing food, water. Energy redources and contril of raw materials sufficient to keep 1.5b people moving fwd.

Fishing fleets now roam very far afield… Tensons will get higher!

It aint going to stop anytime soon.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

That’s a very good point Pete, and when they are hungry and thristy….

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Yes, and China versus the world, not just us. Its Argentinian and Indonesian forces firing on Chinese fishing boats. It is indeed a pity the BBC etc spend less time moaning about Trump and more about China. But our our intetests are a shared interest with NATO.

David Williams
Guest
David Williams

Manufacturing drives trade, trades drives wealth, wealth drives power, power requires expression and warships are the traditional way of doing so in peacetime. I cannot see that the Chinese are doing anything different to what we did from the 17th Century onwards. British expansion included invading China. People in glass houses…

dan
Guest
dan

Is funny that when a US or allied ship gets within 12 miles of those illegally made Chinese islands the Chinese start crying like a 2 year old but it’s OK for them to them to sail much closer to the UK. lol

Nicholas
Guest
Nicholas

How would Britain react if a Chinese Navy ship got within 12 miles of the Trident armed nuclear submarine base in Faslane Scotland?

T.S
Guest

On another note, I have just read on the RN website that martlet has just been successfully tested fired from a new mount on the 30mm gun. Looks like it has five missiles from the picture.
That’s great news, as we can now attack smaller ships and fast attack boats without having to have a wildcat in the air. Finally our ships will get some teeth!

Nicholas Wood
Guest
Nicholas Wood

I hope the Iranian Revolutiony Guards head honcho’s are paying attention.

Helions
Guest
Helions

They’re probably going to pay attention to this though.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-16/uk-sends-3rd-warship-gulf-irans-khamenei-vows-answer-british-piracy

Too bad the QE couldn’t be crash deployed right now with a real air wing.

Cheers

Rob
Guest
Rob

Wow that’s one odd website, attracting all kinds of loons with their idiotic comments.

Helions
Guest
Helions

Excellent market news and loonies to boot. What’s not to like?

Cheers!

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Good new – See the link below to the Martlet trial done with HMS Sutherland. It mounts 5 Martlets alongside the DS30 gun.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/16/royal-navy-trials-new-missile-target-small-boats-wake-tensions/

peter french
Guest
peter french

Whats a Chinese Warship doing this far west. it Has no Allies west of India. Strange or perhaps a gesture to say we sail where we want if you dispute the China sea as being Chinese territory

Bob
Guest
Bob

just completed a 5 day visit and exercises with the French in the Med. now off to visit the Dutch.

Che
Guest
Che

so many washbrained old empire folks express their ignorant ideas. LOL
Love from China. Muslim make you guys great again.