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.
Breaking news: Two #Russia Navy Vishnya Class spy ships off Scotland. Near RAF Lossiemouth
If any tabloid reporters are thinking of running something, they are quite close to Trump's golf course at Aberdeen. Sorry!
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) November 8, 2020
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.“
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.
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.
2 USAF B-52s heading over Eastern Ukraine passing along the Sea of Azov coast line pic.twitter.com/w7g99p33Kb
— Intel Air & Sea (@air_intel) September 4, 2020
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.