A recent headline from a local paper in Scotland claimed “Royal Navy battleship hunting Russian subs spotted in secret operation on Scots loch,” suggesting that a Royal Navy “battleship” was on a secret mission to hunt Russian submarines in Loch Fyne.

This claim is not accurate.

First, the Royal Navy doesn’t even use battleships anymore but let’s just move on from that. Frigates like HMS Richmond are more nimble and are specifically designed for roles like anti-submarine warfare.

The term “secret operation” makes it sound like something out of a spy thriller, but that’s not really the case here. Yes, military operations often involve some level of confidentiality, but what HMS Richmond was doing in Loch Fyne was routine training and testing. These exercises are standard and necessary to make sure the ship’s sonar systems work perfectly. So, calling it a “secret operation” is a bit of an exaggeration.

The phrase “hunting Russian subs” suggests there was some immediate threat or active engagement, which isn’t the case. The primary purpose of HMS Richmond being in Loch Fyne was to test and calibrate its sonar systems. This type of testing is crucial for maintaining readiness and ensuring that the frigate can detect and track submarines effectively.

A Royal Navy spokesperson told the UK Defence Journal: “HMS Richmond is currently in the area of Loch Fyne conducting routine trials including Noise Range Testing and Navigational Training.”

In short, HMS Richmond was spotted on Loch Fyne, one of Scotland’s largest lochs, calibrating sonar equipment. These efforts are part of routine training to make sure the ship’s detection systems are in top shape, especially given the current tensions between Britain and Russia.

Why Loch Fyne?

Loch Fyne is a key spot for the Royal Navy to conduct these tests. Its depth and controlled environment make it ideal for measuring how much noise the ship makes underwater and for testing the performance of its sonar systems. Given that HMS Richmond is the Towed Array Patrol Ship (TAPS), these exercises help ensure the ship is ready to detect and track submarines, especially around strategic locations like Faslane, where the UK’s Vanguard-class submarines are based.

HMS Richmond’s activities in Loch Fyne were focused on fine-tuning its detection and stealth capabilities. This kind of preparation is crucial, especially now, with the geopolitical tensions involving Russia. Regularly testing and calibrating the sonar systems ensures that the Royal Navy can respond swiftly and effectively to any potential underwater threats.

When asked for comment on the story by the newspaper in question, I tried to explain these points to provide clarity and context about HMS Richmond’s actual activities and purpose in Loch Fyne. However, unfortunately, much was removed.

For more on what Loch Fyne is used for, please see this excellent writeup from NavyLookout.

Keeping the fleet stealthy – the acoustic ranges used to support the Royal Navy

While the article highlights important aspects of HMS Richmond’s operations, it contains some incorrect elements that could mislead readers. I have great respect for the journalists involved, and my intention is not to criticise them personally as they are fantastic at what they do. Accurate reporting in defence matters, however, is incredibly important for public understanding and national security, especially with increased tensions.

Moreover, if a Russian submarine were within our territorial waters and that close to the home of the nuclear deterrent, it would be a major breach of international law. Submarines are only allowed to transit national waters for innocent passage on the surface. It stands to reason that such an incident if it had happened, would have resulted in a much bigger flurry of activity than a single frigate sailing up Loch Fyne.

The presence of a foreign submarine in such a sensitive area would trigger extensive military and diplomatic responses, indicating a significant escalation in tensions.

Even ignoring the Ministry of Defence’s denial, the fact that there was no such heightened activity should suggest that no Russian submarine was in the vicinity. A more straightforward account helps everyone understand the significance of these routine military exercises without causing unnecessary alarm or confusion.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jacko
Jacko (@guest_820198)
8 days ago

Can’t let the truth get in the way of a ‘good’ story😀

Louis G
Louis G (@guest_820199)
8 days ago

The wording makes it so that you can almost feel George’s disappointment that he had to write this article.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_820324)
8 days ago
Reply to  Louis G

but not altogether 😁

Jim
Jim (@guest_820201)
8 days ago

Interestingly in the future with new LIDAR satellite constellations it may be that our SSBN’s can no longer hide in the deep ocean but will have to shelter in territorial waters making the west of Scotland lochs vital for safe operation of the UK deterrent.

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_820387)
7 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Not really, LIDARs still consume a considerable amount of power and each LIDAR sat is a billion pound investment and that billion pound sat can actually only be used to detect subs in a minuscule area of ocean..to actually have a LIDAR satellite constellation that could say provided reasonable levels of detection around say the Atlantic would be a national endeavour costs 10s billions to 100s of billions… The Australian National University published a paper in May 2020 “ Transparent occeans, the coming SSBN counter detection task may be insurmountable “…which is the last in a line of papers starting… Read more »

Ian
Ian (@guest_820203)
8 days ago

I don’t think submarines like to operate in confined, shallow waters surrounded by rocks.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820206)
8 days ago
Reply to  Ian

That’s asking for this ” Whisky on the Rocks?”

Ian
Ian (@guest_820245)
8 days ago

😄

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820285)
8 days ago
Reply to  Ian

As in the Russian sub in the mid 80s in Sweden?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_820205)
8 days ago

I can forgive them not knowing about the varied magnetic and acoustic ranges. Only annoracks like me or RN, R&D types will be fully aware of them.
But “Battleship”
Shakes head.

Jim
Jim (@guest_820208)
8 days ago

The state of the modern British media, 😀

Fen Tiger
Fen Tiger (@guest_820220)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Searching for Kippers?

Louis G
Louis G (@guest_820237)
8 days ago
Reply to  Fen Tiger

Maybe a pulse from the SONAR is good for catching fish?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider (@guest_820225)
8 days ago

Visited Loch Fyne for trials back in the 90’s. Beautiful spot.

The locals were well used to ‘visitors’. I wonder what they made of the story…

Oh well, we life is strange times.

Cheers CR

Pat uckley.
Pat uckley. (@guest_820229)
8 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Stupid journalist doesnt even know or bother to check that the navy hasnnt had battleships for well over 60 odd years or more !
PB.

Iain Mackay
Iain Mackay (@guest_820381)
7 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I stay in Inveraray, couldn’t believe it when I read this tripe in the paper!

Ian
Ian (@guest_820246)
8 days ago

Maybe they’re just a bit slow to publish and the event was in 1953?

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus (@guest_820339)
7 days ago

I’m waiting for some reporter to describe an RN vessel as a ‘ man o war ‘ !!

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_820388)
7 days ago

I’m pretty sure, the media now use the term battleship for any vessel with a gun….

Dominic Davis-Foster
Dominic Davis-Foster (@guest_820230)
8 days ago

It’s a Mirror Group newspaper – anything that’s not syndicated rubbish is lifted from social media and/or made up.

WSM
WSM (@guest_820249)
8 days ago

Must’ve been a quiet day for news up there…

Derek
Derek (@guest_820273)
8 days ago

A massive load of bollocks more suited to what we expect from Russia ! (1) no sub would get anywhere near our sensitive defence ” village “. (2) any attempts would result in major malfunctioning electronics in subs,,ask Iran re helicopter ” human error ” crash. (3) Even Putin is not that stupid to risk such a stupid maneuver. We have LOADS more in our armoury than the public knows,,the enemy has a little bit of a clue, they are amateurs but dangerous never the same, lots of ways to skin a cat and we are a thorn in Putins… Read more »

Cygnet261
Cygnet261 (@guest_820299)
8 days ago

If, and it’s big if, do people seriously think the sub could get out? Grow up people.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_820323)
8 days ago

Battleship?????? HAVE I MISSED SOMETHING?

Paul Enderby
Paul Enderby (@guest_822760)
2 hours ago

The British Tabloid press. The true national disgrace