Britain Deploys Hunter-Killer Sub to Gibraltar After Russia Blacklists Johnson, Other Top Officials
16:18 GMT 17.04.2022 (Updated: 16:19 GMT 17.04.2022)
The Russian Foreign Ministry slapped sanctions on Prime Minister Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Minister Ben Wallace and ten other senior UK officials on Saturday, barring them from entering Russia. The sanctions mirrored measures put in place by Britain against Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in February.
Britain’s newest Astute-class hunter-killer sub, the HMS Audacious, arrived in Gibraltar just hours after Moscow banned senior UK politicians from entering Russia, UK tabloid media have reported.
The 1.6 billion pound Royal Navy vessel was commissioned in 2020, and is equipped with Spearfish heavy torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles capable of hitting targets up to 2,400 km away. The British military has boasted about the sub’s whisper quiet movement capability thanks to some 39,000 anti-acoustic rubber tiles coating its surface. The vessel is also said to be equipped with advanced sonar equipment, allowing it to detect ships from up to 3,000 nautical miles (5556 km) away.
The HMS Audacious was the fourth Astute-class sub to be commissioned, with a total of seven planned.
Last year, one of the subs from the series was attached to guard the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group as it set sail on a globe-spanning journey Prime Minister Johnson said was meant to bolster Britain’s status as “Europe’s most formidable naval power.” Choppers aboard the carrier were scrambled to hunt for a suspected Russian Project 636 Varshavyanka-class super-quiet diesel-electric sub believed to be stalking the warship during its jaunt through the Mediterranean. The UK Navy never did report back on whether they found the mysterious Russian sub. The Astute-class sub’s role in the operation was not detailed.
In 2018, news.com.au reported that another Astute-class sub had become locked in a cat-and-mouse chase with an alleged Russian sub in the Mediterranean as US, British and French warships and aircraft pounded Syria with cruise missiles after a false-flag chemical attack that the three Western countries blamed on the Syrian government.
The Russian Ministry of Defence did not comment on either alleged incident.
19 March 2021, 18:48 GMT
The HMS Audacious arrived in Gibraltar after Moscow introduced an entry ban on 13 senior UK officials, including Johnson. The ministry warned that more names would be added to the list “in the near future to include British politicians and parliamentarians who contribute to whipping up anti-Russian hysteria.”
NATO has beefed up its Mediterranean presence significantly in recent weeks, keeping the USS Harry Truman carrier strike group, which was deployed in the body of water in December, on deployment. The US Navy also sent four destroyers to the region between January and February. Truman’s onboard aircraft have engaged in ‘air policing’ and training flights in Eastern Europe since then. The US carrier group has been joined by the French Charles de Gaulle and Italian Cavour carrier strike groups for part of its deployment.