HMS St Albans a Royal Nave Type 23 frigate is escorting and tracking a Russian naval fleet as it passes through the English Channel.
The Russian fleet that comprises of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the Pyotr Velikiy battlecruiser and related support ships are sailing back to home waters after fighting in the Syria campaign, where they hit rebel targets belonging to groups such Islamic State.
The fleet will pass close to British territorial waters.
The HMS St Albans is working in conjunction with RAF Typhoon aircraft to monitor the fleet. The St Albans is equipped with a Merlin helicopter and a state of the art radar system. According to a Royal Navy spokesman, the crew are also monitoring the old fashioned way using binoculars.
Michael Fallon, defence secretary, described the fleet and in particular its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov as a “ship of shame.” He continued to say that Russian involvement extended the suffering of the Syrian people.
The fighting in Syria has been fierce and caused widespread misery. There can be no doubt, however, that had Islamic State had won the suffering would have intensified.
Both Michael Fallon and the Royal Navy said they were showing a commitment to keep Britain safe by monitoring the Russian fleet.
Commanding officer of the St Albans, Chris Ansell, said, “This tasking demonstrates the Royal Navy’s commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake short-notice operations. The movements of the Russian ships are being continually monitored in a coordinated response between the Royal Navy, RAF and our Nato partners.
“As an island nation, the security of the seas around our coastline is vital and this sort of task is routine business for HMS St Albans and the Royal Navy, which stands ready at all times to protect UK territorial waters. My ship’s company of 190 sailors take great pride in the role they play as one of the UK’s on-call warships to deal with this type of situation.”
Last year the fleet passed through the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean. On that occasion, they were escorted by the HMS Richmond a Type 23 Frigate, and a Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan.