The Royal Navy’s HMS Forth shadowed the Russian patrol ship Vasily Bykov as she was passing through the English Channel, in what became the UK warship’s first mission, the Daily Star reports.
The newspaper quoted Lieutenant Samuel Fields, the HMS Forth's executive officer, as saying that “this is normal business for the Royal Navy, being prepared at all times to respond to any vessels in the UK’s area of interest.”
He described HMS Forth as one of the UK warships “kept at very high readiness to protect the integrity of UK waters”. The vessel is expected to be sent to the Falklands after wrapping up patrolling missions before the end of this year.
The press service of Russia’s Southern Military District , for its part, reported earlier this week that the patrol ship Vasily Bykov had for the first time started to pass through the English Channel after she left the zone of responsibility of the Black Sea Fleet and came under control of the Baltic Fleet’s command.
As part of the inter-fleet transition, the ship will cover more than 5,000 nautical miles, passing through the Black, Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean, North and Baltic Seas, as well as part of the Atlantic Ocean.
After arriving in St. Petersburg, the ship’s crew will take part in festivities dedicated to Russian Navy Day which is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of July.
The Vasily Bykov is equipped with the most advanced radio engineering and sonar systems, as well as naval guns, air defences and grenade launchers.
Last month, the UK Royal Navy’s HMS Northumberland escorted the Russian missile destroyer Severomorsk as it passed through the English Channel on its way from the Atlantic Ocean.
This was preceded a UK Royal Navy warship being scrambled earlier this year to shadow Russia's advanced Admiral Gorshkov frigate, which carried out air defence drills off the coast of Scotland in the North Sea while en route to the Atlantic.
While the UK has repeatedly expressed concern over Russian warships’ routine passage of the English Channel, the Russian Defence Ministry underscores that the vessels pass the area in strict accordance with international norms.