Royal Navy frigate escorts Russian frigate through the English Channel

A Royal Navy frigate on fleet escort duty followed a Russian frigate as it passed through the North Sea and areas of UK interest on Christmas Day.

HMS St Albans, a Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, was called upon to sail on December 23 and keep watch on the new Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov as it passed close to UK territorial waters.

HMS St Albans remained at sea on Christmas Day to monitor the Russian frigate, keeping track of its activity in areas of national interest.

According to the Royal Navy, St Albans will return to Portsmouth on December 26 [Boxing Day] and remain ready for very short notice tasking over the holiday period.

UK defense secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression.

“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests.”

The festive season has seen an upsurge in Russian units transiting UK waters. HMS Tyne was also called to escort a different vessel, a Russian intelligence-gathering ship, through the North Sea and the English Channel on Christmas Eve, the navy said.

A Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron, based at RNAS Yeovilton, was then dispatched to monitor two further Russian vessels.

“My ship’s company take great pride in serving Great Britain and the role they play dealing with both the routine and unexpected,” Commander Chris Ansell, the commanding officer of HMS St Albans, said. “Missing parts of Christmas and New Year with our families is never easy, but it is absolutely required as part of our duty to keep Britain safe all year round.”

The 190-strong ship’s company of HMS St Albans join more than 4,000 sailors and Royal Marines who are deployed across the globe or on heightened readiness to respond to anything that may come their way.

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