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HMS Somerset escorts Russian task group

30 March 2016
A Royal Navy warship has shadowed a Russian Naval Task Group transiting through the English Channel and up the East Coast of the UK.

HMS Somerset, a Type 23 Frigate, along with her Merlin helicopter was used to detect and monitor the movement of the Russian warship, Vice Admiral Kulakov and her supporting ships.

HMS Somerset was on a training mission when she received the call to locate and escort the Russian Units.  As with other Royal Navy ships operating around the UK, HMS Somerset was at a high state of alert to deal with any maritime security task, including the monitoring of transits through the UK area of responsibility by non-NATO warships.

The Vice Admiral Kulakov is a Russian Udaloy class Destroyer and was returning from a  deployment to Syria.  It was accompanied by a tanker and tug, which is standard procedure for Russian ships.

Somerset intercepted the Task Group off Brest as it approached the south west of the UK last Wednesday, 23 March and escorted it through UK waters until they turned for home on 29 March, after spending the Easter weekend off the East coast of Scotland.  

This transit was continually monitored through a coordinated response between the Royal Navy and our NATO partners.

Commander Michael Wood

The group carried out an underway replenishment in the North Sea and off the Scottish coast outside of UK territorial waters. 

The operation involved collaboration with NATO forces, with the French Ship La Motte-Picquet and Netherlands Ship Friesland also tracking the Russian Task Group as it passed French and Dutch waters respectively. 

HMS Somerset kept a watchful eye on the ships as they anchored in international waters, twenty miles from land in the Moray Firth to avoid Storm Katie.  

It was not the Russian Ship’s first visit to UK waters as the Vice Admiral Kulakov paid a goodwill visit to Portsmouth in August 2012.  

Russian Warships of the Northern and Baltic Fleets routinely passage through UK area waters en route to deployments in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.

Commander Michael Wood, Commanding Officer of HMS Somerset, said: “This transit was continually monitored through a coordinated response between the Royal Navy and our NATO partners. 

"The transit of Russian ships from the Mediterranean to their northern ports is not unusual, but the Royal Navy is ready at all times to protect UK territorial waters.”

Based in Plymouth, HMS Somerset is about to start a short maintenance period before resuming patrol duties around the UK as part of your Royal Navy’s commitment to protecting our Nation’s interests. 

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