HMS Mersey intercepts Russian vessels in English Channel

A Royal Navy warship has intercepted several Russian vessels in the English Channel during the bank holiday weekend.

Portsmouth-based HMS Mersey was tasked to locate, monitor and escort the ships in the fourth similar action in the past two months.

The offshore patrol vessel intercepted the intelligence ship Vasily Tatishchev, the depot ship PM82 as well as a Russian tug and the frigate Severomorsk.

A Royal Navy spokesman said that Mersey later handed over to Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke to escort the Severmorsk out of the UK area of interest.

Lieutenant Commander George Storton, HMS Mersey's commanding officer, said: "HMS Mersey was ready to respond within a matter of hours to this tasking.

"This is routine business for the Royal Navy, and HMS Mersey herself is well-versed in this role with this being the fourth such operation in the last two months."

Mersey is one of four River-class patrol ships, three of which conduct fishery protection, general patrols and other maritime security duties around the UK.

A fourth, HMS Clyde, is permanently deployed to the Falkland Islands.

Earlier this year Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset shadowed a surfaced Russian submarine as it passed through the English Channel.

The Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar passed through the Dover Strait in the first week of May. 

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