HMS Montrose demonstrated NATO Allies’ resolve in the Baltic Sea last week as it tracked a Russian warship off the Danish coast.
Montrose, deployed on the multinational Baltops exercise, was dispatched to investigate after picking up the radar signature of an unidentified surface ship.
Despite high seas and 30 knot winds, the crew of Monstrose identified the unknown ship as the 104m-long Steregushchiy-class corvette RFS Soobrazitelny, making her way west at slow-speed.
As Montrose closed with the Russian vessel a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 “Coot” maritime patrol aircraft was detected over 40 miles away, and soon appeared overhead, circling the two vessels.
Both the Russian vessel and aircraft appeared to be carrying out their normal business.
The HMS Montrose Officer of the Watch, Lieutenant Chloe Lea, said: “After we picked up a vessel on our radar that was not showing any of the normal behaviour expected of merchant vessels or Baltops warships, we were able to identify her as the same Russian Steregushchiy Class corvette that we saw a few days ago.
“We have seen the Russians operate a lot in this area but this is the closest we have seen them.”
The same Ilyushin IL20-Coot has also been spotted on several occasions, monitoring developments on Baltops 14.
Commander James Parkin, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said: “After operating very close to Russian warships in the Eastern Mediterranean at the beginning of the year, seeing so many Russian ships and aircraft in the Baltic is normal business for my team.
“All our interaction so far has been professional, and effective, and we have gained huge benefit from working so closely with our NATO and European allies in such a busy and challenging environment.”
The incident is the latest occasion on which Russian units have approached ships taking part in Baltops, a US led exercise involving warships, submarines and helicopters from 14 different nations.
Plymouth based HMS Montrose started Baltops 14 on 6 June, alongside in Sweden, and the exercise has now concluded.
Press Release, June 24, 2014; Image: UK Navy