Royal Navy frigate back in port after shadowing Russian warships

A Royal Navy frigate has sailed into port after shadowing and gathering intelligence on Russian warships travelling around the UK.

HMS Lancaster returned to Portsmouth Naval Base having completed a tour to the High North where it led a freedom of navigation operation leading a multi-national task group within the Arctic Circle.

And as it returned home, the Type 23 frigate became involved in operations monitoring Russian warships in the Baie de Seine in northern France.

A total of nine Russian warships have been followed by the Royal Navy in waters close to the UK in the past two weeks.

Patrol ship HMS Severn had shadowed a surfaced Kilo-class submarine, the Stary Oskol, the corvette Boikiy, patrol ship Vasiliy Bykov and support ships in the Dover strait of the English Channel.

And Severn was also on patrol as the Vice-Admiral Kulakov sailed through the Channel.

For some of the operation, the Russian ships sheltered from bad weather within the Baie de Seine, northern France, where Severn was joined by allied French navy ships and aircraft.

HMS Lancaster joined Severn tracking Steregushchiy-class corvette Boikiy in the Channel and used its Wildcat helicopter to gather intelligence.

HMS Tyne, HMS Richmond and HMS Kent jointly escorted the same group of Russian ships as they operated in the Celtic Sea.

This task group were joined by RAF Typhoon and F-35s jets, plus tankers RFA Tideforce and RFA Tiderace.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said: “This is why the Royal Navy is at sea every day, protecting the UK and our interests.

“Despite the increase in Russian activity, both on the surface and underwater, we are always ready to respond.”

Lancaster spent three days of operations in the High North and sailed into the North Cape.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “The High North and Arctic region is vitally important to our security of the UK, as well as some of our closest allies in Scandinavia, the Baltic Region and northern Europe.

“Deployments such as this, as well as our active engagement in the Northern Group and leadership of the Joint Expeditionary Force (Jef), demonstrate to our allies and adversaries alike that the UK will be forward-leaning in supporting the security and stability of the region.”

The Norwegian warship HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen joined HMS Lancaster for a joint exercise.

Commander William Blackett, the commanding officer of HMS Lancaster, said: “For HMS Lancaster, this short operation was a great way to close out a challenging year of trials and training.”

Cdr Blackett also cast a wreath into the waters near Bodo, believed to be the last resting place of submarine HMS Syrtis which was lost with all hands in 1944.

After sinking a Norwegian merchant ship pressed into German service 50 miles southwest of the northern port of Bodo, nothing was heard of the boat or her 48 crew again and it was believed to have fallen victim to to a German minefield.