Two Russian spy ships are operating off the Scottish coast just north of RAF Lossiemouth.

Naval News has reported that the two ships have been identified as Pr.684 Vishnya Class intelligence gathering ships.

H I Sutton states in Naval News that:

“The two ships have been identified as Pr.684 Vishnya Class intelligence gathering ships. They are operating approximately 23 miles off the Scottish coast, and about 34 miles from RAF Lossiemouth. The base is home to the RAF’s new Poseidon MRA1 maritime patrol aircraft, as well as four squadrons of Typhoon FGR4 fighters. The Vishnyas are accompanied by a Russian Navy replenishment ship, believed to be the Sergey Osipov.

You can read more here.

The ships are large, purpose built ships designed for signals intelligence gathering via an extensive array of sensors and they are armed with two AK-630 close-in weapon systems and SA-N-8 surface-to-air missile launchers for self-defence.

The ships are visible on commercial satellite imagery (linked to above), giving away their position.

Earlier in the month, we reported that the Russian guided missile destroyer Severomorsk had been sailing in international waters just north of RAF Lossiemouth for around one week.

According to a Russian Northern Fleet announcement:

“The large antisubmarine ship of the Northern Fleet Severomorsk and the large sea tanker Sergey Osipov left the Moray Firth Bay of the North Sea and headed for the Barents Sea. The detachment completed the assigned tasks in the North Atlantic and proceeded to move to the main basing point.”

It is understood that the vessels conducted an anti-sabotage defence exercise and worked conducted replenishment of fuel and fresh water from a tanker.

Readers should understand however that the vessels are in international waters and are doing nothing illegal. The UK and US also sail vessels close to Russia.

Earlier in the year, American and British warships were in the Barents Sea following seven days of Arctic operations. The surface action group comprised of Arleigh Burke class destroyers USS Donald Cook, USS Porter, USS Roosevelt, fast combat support ship USNS Supply and the Royal Navy’s HMS Kent entered the Barents Sea in May to conduct training and operations in the challenging conditions of the Arctic region.

Additionally and more recently, British surveillance aircraft were operating over the Black Sea near Crimea at the same time two B-52 bombers approached the disputed territory before turning back.

A Royal Air Force RC-135 and Sentinel were observed operating over the Black Sea.

The Open Source Intelligence Twitter account Intel Air & Sea followed the event earlier, if you don’t follow them then I’d suggest you go do that now.

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Im sure they will enjoy Classic FM. They will soon tire of Wee Jimmys daily briefings.

Paul T

Putting Two and Two together,are these reports of Russian Ships operating in or near UK Waters the result of the resumption of the RAF MRA Capability,in that now they can actually be detected,or is this routine on their part but it was never reported ?.


They did not mysteriously appear from out of nothing. They had to be transited out of their base and go all round Norway. Norway have several long range surveillance aircraft.

Daniele Mandelli

No, quite confident NATO is aware whenever Russian ships sortie, and their submarines too.


They have a good idea of what they’re about to do before they’ve even left port thanks to satellite imagery. Makes you think about the vulnerability of surface ships.

Levi Goldsteinberg

I’d imagine all this activity off our coasts is a response to the RN buzzing about in the Black Sea and eastern Med and I base this on nothing at all

Supportive Bloke

This is just brass balls stuff. We will sit there in the open and slurp and there is nothing you can do about it.

But we are here and the world knows.

A bit like Novichok – I do wonder if the use of a serial of passports was deliberate as it cuts both ways – we were incompetent for not stopping it as it was so obvious!!


I wouldn’t worry too much about this, we do it to them too. Far more concerned about what Russian subs and drones are doing under the ocean with our fibre-optic cables.

Daniele Mandelli

Well the USN had project Ivy Bells as far back as the 80s concerning cable intercept in the Sea of Othosk. But I’d be surprised if Russia could access our ultra high classification cables that connect GCHQ NSA and other agencies, as they I believe run on dedicated secure lines, as opposed to the mass commercial stuff that we ourselves access. The UK has a great advantage here, the world’s undersea cable backbones run through the UK. We can intercept using the CLS, and do, with the agreement of the owners. If they don’t agree they are compelled if a… Read more »


“The area Risk State is RED Emcon Plan Charlie is in force, No transmissions on anything!”

No biggy.
Everyone , not just Lossie will strangle everything for transmissions for hundreds of miles around and not let them have any fingerprints for radars etc. Alternatively …you let them have a fingerprint knowing full well that in a “This is not a drill” situation you will go fully agile on PRF and frequency and not use the stuff you let them have anyway making it worthless.


Invited by the SNP to discuss possible future defence plans for a possible independant Scotland…..