Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov has been labelled a ‘ship of shame’ by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon for its role in Russian military activities in Syria.
It is also understood that one of the reasons the carrier is returning home from Syria is the vessels inability to safely operate aircraft.
Royal Navy Frigate HMS St Albans and RAF Typhoon aircraft closely escorted the Russian vessels.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“We are keeping a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia; a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people.
We are man-marking these vessels every step of the way around the UK as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe.”
On this occasion, RAF Typhoon were also launched to monitor the Russian warships as they transit near to UK waters in order to ‘ensure that their activity is monitored and executed safely in accordance with international procedures’.
It is understood that one of the reasons the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsoz is returning home from Syria is the vessels inability to safely operate aircraft.
Following two incidents, the Kuznetsovs air wing was transferred to shore at Khmeimim Air Base near Latakia to continue military operations.
In November a MiG-29K crashed in to the sea while trying to land on the carrier, according to Russian officials the crash was a result of technical malfunction but it was later revealed that the jet had run out of fuel waiting to land while the crew was attempting to repair an arresting wire that broke. In early December an Su-33 crashed into the sea after attempting to land on the carrier. According to a Russian report, the jet crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions. Initially it was suspected that the jet missed the wires and failed to go around, falling short of the bow of the warship, but later it was revealed that the arresting cable failed to hold the aircraft, and was damaged in the attempt.
It was reported that Russia is to withdraw forces from Syria, with its aircraft carrier the first to leave says the chief of the Russian armed forces.
Gen Valery Gerasimov said:
“The Russian defence ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces deployment in Syria.”
The Admiral Kuznetsov serves as the flagship of the Russian Navy and is their only aircraft carrier. The initial name of the ship was Riga; she was launched as Leonid Brezhnev in 1985.
She was originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy and was intended to be the lead ship of her class but the only other ship of her class, Varyag, was never completed or commissioned by the Soviet, Russian or Ukrainian navy. This second hull was eventually sold to the People’s Republic of China by Ukraine, completed in Dalian and launched as Liaoning.