Three British ships and two helicopters were involved in shadowing four Russian vessels as they made their way up the English Channel and into the North Sea.

The Royal Navy say that Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland led the Royal Navy effort to monitor the force – RFS Marshall Ustinov, a Slava-class cruiser, RFS Admiral Kulakov a Udaloy-class destroyer and their support vessels Sliva and ocean-going tug and tanker Vyazma.

The Royal Navy say that the group sailed up from the Bay of Biscay having completed a deployment to the eastern Mediterranean.

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The Russian task force includes a tug.

“As well as Sutherland and her Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose in Cornwall, patrol vessel HMS Mersey, tanker RFA Tideforce, and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at Yeovilton ensured the Russian force was continuously observed as it sailed through UK waters.

A Merlin helicopter launching from HMS Sutherland.

Royal Navy sailors and aircrew monitored every movement of the task group using state-of-the-art radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, allowing them to track their course and speed as they passed the British Isles.”

“As the UK’s high-readiness frigate we conduct security patrols in and around our territorial waters and national infrastructure,” said Commander Tom Weaver, Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, in a news release.

“Working with our French and Norwegian allies, these units were monitored on their transit north from the Mediterranean and our interaction with them was wholly professional.”

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Peter Crisp
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Peter Crisp

Odd question here but normally how ready are the ships that sail through the channel for actual combat? I’m assuming that it’s pretty obvious to any seasoned navy personnel the difference between a ship just in transit or a ship ready for war and (I admit I have no idea if this is right) I would think it at least takes some time to go from standard peacetime operations to full kick arse mode? The UK carrier for instance will obviously not be in full fighting formation as it’ll have a smaller combat wing in peacetime and deciding to start… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

I suspect it depends on the vessel and if it actually is fully armed etc. Could the Russian task force have surprised the completely outmatched UK escort, I suspect the answer is yes but what next, what would the objective be beyond starting a war. There would need to be a number of moving parts to a real attack, not least the significant ground force needing to be moved into place, and for it to be an attack on the UK this ground force would need to be transported by ship needing a much bigger task force and one that… Read more »

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Depends if preps for firing are done and where the safe to fire keys are. In a threat area all weapons are in date for maintenance and remain in date. Preps for firing checks happen every watch change the systems are at immediate notice with the keys in the operator firing panels. Regular sailing around the preps for firing on close range and force protection are kept in date as the systems are again at immediate notice. You can turn on and use most systems in short order if needed its just that there is a risk that it may… Read more »

Herodotus
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Is it Russian Navy policy for their naval vessels to be escorted by a tug! What happens if the tug breaks down?

Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

A cynic might suggest that because they *have* to have tugs with them when they deploy their carrier, they try to make it look normal and disguise the weakness by deploying tugs with every squadron. Kind of like ‘styling it out’

Herodotus
Guest

Hmmm…I was wondering more about available ports. I assume that most ports would allow an ailing ship to dock…..or are the Russians sensitive about this?

Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

I’d imagine that’s not feasible. NATO got rather grumpy with Spain when they helped the Russians out in Ceuta on their way leaving the Med

Peter Crisp
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Peter Crisp

If a major fire were to happen that would surely be reason to let them dock?

spyintheskyuk
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spyintheskyuk

Reason not to I suspect because I doubt the Russians will help pay for clearing up the scrap.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

I’ve touched on this point many times before, batteries of truck-mounted Naval Strike Missiles would surely be the better option for this type of work. The RBS-15 Mk. III, 300+km for RBS-15 MkIV is also an option.

Launched from either Land, Sea, or Air, we would be able to free up our limited naval assets currently conducting this type of operation around UK shores?

farouk
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farouk

Nigel,
There is that, but personally I would rather we hit them with a food and beer hamper each time their ships pass by. Oh No problem keeping the NSMs in the background, but I feel a Cornish nasty washed down with a couple of cans of Fosters would be preferred by all.

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Fosters, are you trying to start a fight? A pint of Proper Job and a Pasty, best lunchtime snack ever!

Andy
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Andy

I was wondering if a cornish nasty was cornish slang for ginsters?

DaveyB
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DaveyB

Yarp

Helions
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Helions

Bass IPA and a pie and mash w parsley sauce plz….

Cheers!

Farouk
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Farouk

I’m not an IPA person , but the pie and mash with parsley sauce sounds fantastic. One for me to try.

Steve R
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Steve R

Problem is that those missile batteries can only be used in hostile action. The missiles can omly be used for one thing: to attack and destroy the ships.

As this is peacetime we need to simply show our presence, show that we know they are there and can respond whatever they do.

Using missiles instead would be the equivalent of launching an Aster 30 at any approaching Russian aircraft instead of sending up Typhoons to intercept and escort them away.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

No need in my view Nigel. They are transiting from the Med back to the Baltic Fleet or Northern. No threat, no war, no confrontation. Just an regular occurrence. Why should anything happen? Has such a thing ever happened in history, that 2 groups pass each other, at peace, then it all “kicks off?” They watch us and we watch them. You cannot do that with truck mounted NSM lined up on the Cliffs of Dover. And what do the trucks of NSM do at other times when there are no ships passing? I’d rather we spent the money putting… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Coastal defences, being an island nation, is of prime importance to me Daniele and the fact that this would be a relatively cheap way to protect the UK from future threats as we have no idea when it might happen. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Fixed and mobile launch sites with anti-ship and anti-air capabilities (NSM-RBS-15 MkIV- Astor 30-Block1NT) purely as examples along with improved radar stations would make this country pretty much off-limits to most. A stockpile of these weapons can then be shared across the armed forces depending on where the mission takes us. Having… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Because being Russia, a potential adversary ( some would say current one ) professionalism and security dictate that they are watched, overtly, and quite possibly covertly and electronically as I suggested. Will be the same for any NATO nation that these vessels pass. As to why 3 Ships and 2 Helicopters, no idea. But I’m confident the RN know what they are doing and the reason is valid. Who are we to say otherwise? My take on the Coastal Defences question – it is down to priorities and money. In the Cold War the UK had 2 RAF Regiment Squadrons… Read more »

Helions
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Helions

How about box mounted ASMs that can be put on both vehicle launchers and affixed to naval vessels as well? Plug and Play. The USMC is experimenting with the concept and I for one think it’s a sound one.

Cheers!

Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

Or we could do as the Russians do and have hardened concrete bunkers bristling with AshMs dotted along our coast. Kind of like modern day coastal forts, its second-to-none for area denial

julian1
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julian1

How much land does the MoD have that is littoral? I know there is land in cornwall/devon, wales and Scotland but is there sufficient sites to even provide adequate coverage?

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Radar sites on or near coast, like Trimingham and associated comms site further west at Weyborne. Naval bases. POL depots. Ranges on North Sea coast like Donna Nook. Army Ranges near Lydd in Kent.
Probably plenty of others but just a small example.
What’s the range of these modern ASMs?

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

Engine Solid fuel rocket booster, Microturbo TRI 40 turbojet
Operational range
NSM 185 km (115 mi; 100 nmi)+ (profile dependent)
JSM 185 km (115 mi; 100 nmi)+ low-low-low profile, 555 km (345 mi; 300 nmi)+ hi-hi-low profile
Engine turbojet
Wingspan 1.4 m

Operational range70 km for RBS-15 Mk. I and II, 250 km for RBS-15 Mk. III, 300+km for RBS-15 MkIV[1][2]
Flight altitude sea-skimming
Speed subsonic
Guidance system
inertial, GPS, terminal active radar homing (J band)
Launch platform
naval ships, aircraft and land-based missile launchers

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Nigel. So, lets hypothesize – covering the UK coasts. ( Some of these MoD sites are a tad inland, but not by much ) 🙂 North Sea / East Coast: Batteries at MoD Shoeburyness, Trimingham, Holbeach, Donna Nook, Boulmer. English Channel: Hythe Ranges, Lydd Ranges, Thorney Island, Lulworth Ranges, QinetiQ Portland Bill, Exmouth Ranges, Antony ( Tregantle Fort ), and RNAS Predannack West / Bristol Channel: RRH Portreath, Penhale Sands, RMB Instow, Wales South: Pembrey Sands, Manorbier, Castlemartin. Wales West: Aberporth. Ex RAE Llanbedr ( might have to re purchase ) RAF Valley Irish Sea: Altcar. Eskmeals. Scotland: Kirkkudbright.… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Remotely operated would be ideal for fixed batteries, current RAF airfields would, of course, be ideal. Mobile launchers could be based at one or two dedicated airfields and moved around when required given the threat level posed by a larger naval force. As these missiles can be used against both sea and land targets, not forgetting they can be air-launched too, we would be in a very good position to defend the UK. Clearly the ships would be fitted with these onboard! Combine that with fixed batteries of Astor 30-Block1NT on the same sites, or further inland to protect our… Read more »

Robert
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Robert

I like your theories Nigel, but the idea that the Russian fleet is somehow going to invade our East coast Without warning doesn’t real stack up in this day and age. Cyber security is the real threat from Russia.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Cybersecurity is “one” of the real threats posed by Russia Robert.

I think you may have misunderstood me when you posted the idea that the “Russian fleet is somehow going to invade our East coast”

What I said was:

“And don’t forget, we have other friendly countries along our eastern seaboard including France who have the same potential threat from Russia as we do.

I was talking about defending the UK as a whole. Both Russia and China are rapidly modernising their armed forces and participating in joint military exercises.

For what purpose??

Plan for the worst and hope for the best in my opinion.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Also, see my post below with the attached link.

“I think this sums up my point very nicely Daniele!” I was simply looking at cheaper alternatives to defend our shores or deter would-be aggressors.

NSM-JSM VL being very useful and flexible assets!

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I think this sums up my point very nicely Daniele! Also, think of the strike brigade concept I mentioned. “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps want a land-based version of the new Naval Strike Missile. The two services envision using the missile to make adversaries stay away from U.S. and allied-held islands and shorelines, where they could face even better threats to the survival. It’s a modern-day take on the old practice of stationing big artillery guns on land prepared to duke it out with enemy ships. The revival of big power warfare against states like Russia and China has… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

I would much rather we equip the typhoons or p8s with anti ship missiles, as they can cover the whole of the UK fast, whilst land based missiles would be needed in massive numbers to have same coverage.

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Right dit on. Back in the day when on a fleet ready escort we escorted a Kirov and later that year the Kunetsnov. It was still the cold War but it was all very relaxed with us watching them and them watching us. Our lynx even did a very close overflight to the kirov and left them a bottle of scotch on the flight deck (yep that close). It’s a well worn path that navies have trodden for years without issue. A battery of missiles shore side cannot do all the other things that happen. ELINT Photos of new equipment.… Read more »

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

NSM was never designed to do that, It’s a missile, hence the reason for other UK assets which specialise in the type of work you mention.

My post was in relation to defending UK shores at a relatively cheap price and at the same time beefing up our strike brigades using the same missile (mobile) which can be launched from land, sea or, Air.

It appears my theory at least is sound as the USMC appear to be looking at doing the very same thing.

I also mentioned in an above post about improving our radar installations at the same time.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a30551461/nsm-missile/

Ron
Guest
Ron

A RFA tanker escorting a Russian Task Group? Diffrent. I do find it laughable that they need a sea going tug with all of their ship deployments.
As for Russian ships sailing through the English Channel, yes they are equipped for war, the Russians do not deploy unless they are loaded for bear. It would only take them a few minutes to go from peace time sailing routine to war, basically the time needed to power up their radars to max.

DaveyB
Guest
DaveyB

Perhaps it would be better if we shadowed their ships with our own tugs? So if they break down, we can claim salvage rights!

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

Why not treat them to a ‘swarm’ of Typhoons? Just like they did to HMS Duncan, in the Black Sea. Taste of their own medicine, I say!

I bet the Russians’ diplomatic reaction won’t be as muted as ours was, to the above.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Just being Devils Advocate. Where was HMS Duncan headed when loitering off the Crimea? Or was she spying?

I thought it was highly inflammatory myself.

Not defending Russia at all but just adding some perspective to the reaction here sometimes when a Russian vessel sails past headed home when we, and NATO, do exactly the same off Russia’s coast and airspace.

I think the RAF is too professional to send 17 Typhoons myself!

Steve
Guest
Steve

I question if we would be able to send 17 up at one time without significant pre warning.

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

Meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, Daniele, but you are correct, Duncan’s presence off Crimea was sure to bring a reaction. An exciting episode to watch, though!

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Morning.

Yes, after your comment I re watched the whole thing. Our boys and girls were so professional.

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

Thanks Daniele. Actually, when I think about it, the Russians were unprofessional. There was absolutely no need for 17 aircraft, all buzzing around Duncan, really just to make a point. No Western nation would have done that. Yes, Duncan may (and probably was) gathering intelligence. It’s done all the time by both sides. The Russians, on the other hand needed only to send a Coot, if they wanted to do the same. Recently, two Typhoons overflew the Admiral Kuznetsov as it transitted UK waters – but not in the agressive way the Russians did. But that’s the Russian mentality, I… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

17 of varied types too I believe, one looked like an SU24 Fencer to my eye, might be wrong on that.

The Russians can be somewhat “agricultural” in their methods…!

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

We do.
Dit on again. Again back in the day a certain kirov was buzzed by 2 Bucs off Northern Scotland whilst we where no more than a mile away. They flew below the height of the bow trying to get the then Soviet navy to turn on their radars. Not a peep. They stayed quiet.

I was impressive though. A pile of black smoke pouring out of the Bucs as they tanked in at max chat at literally sea level.

Crabfat
Guest
Crabfat

Gib, in the early ‘70s. During the exercise season there were two RAF Hunters stationed there for several months, working with RN ships in the Med. They would fly at low level abeam the ships, who would use them for targeting practice (not real!). As they flew past, in line astern, the first Hunter had ‘HELLO’ in large dayglo letters, stuck on its side. The second said ‘SAILOR’…