RFS Yantar, the Russian Navy’s oceanographic vessel – also referred to as spy ship, underwater reconnaissance ship or seabed research ship – was escorted by several NATO ships as it transited the English Channel into the North Sea.
Yantar was first escorted by a French Navy ship in the Bay of Biscay to later enjoy the company of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond.
Yantar was also shadowed by a Belgian patrol ship and Dutch frigate HNLMS Van Amstel.
While Russian Navy vessels are routinely escorted in the English Channel, Yantar’s passage drew more attention as the ship is known to often loiter near important subsea internet cables causing concern because its intelligence collection capabilities.
The specialist reconnaissance ship carries three submersible vehicles which can dive to 6,000 meters and send back images in addition to collecting items from the bottom of the ocean.
Commander Ben Keith, the commanding officer of HMS Diamond which escorted Yantar, said: “HMS Diamond is proud to be doing her part to protect the UK area of interest by monitoring the Russian vessel Yantar on its transit.
“This is routine business for the Royal Navy, and my ship’s company are well-trained and ready at short notice to deploy for such tasking.”