Russian carrier-cruiser fleet escorted through the Channel

NATO ships and aircraft are escorting the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and its carrier strike group transiting the English Channel en route home from Syria.

Vessels from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Great Britain have all at one point formed part of a fleet of ships closely following the Admiral Kuznetsov.

Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate is one of the ships keeping watch on the Russian aircraft carrier, which is being accompanied by a cruiser and a salvage tug, as it passes close to UK territorial waters.

HMS St Albans has worked in company with RAF Typhoon aircraft to monitor the ship.

“We will keep a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia; a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people,” said Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.

“We are man-marking these vessels every step of the way around the UK as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe.”

“This tasking demonstrates the Royal Navy’s commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake short notice operations,” said Commander Chris Ansell, the commanding officer of HMS St Albans.

“The movements of the Russian ships are being continually monitored in a co-ordinated 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.”

The Kuznetsov carrier group previously passed through the Channel last autumn on its way to the Mediterranean and was escorted by Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan and Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond.

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