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St Albans joined by 3 Royal Air Force Typhoon jets while they sail next to the Russian Aircraft Carr
Merlin Helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron
Merlin Helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron
Merlin Helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron

Russians in the Channel

Published: 31 Jan 2017

The RNAS Culdrose Merlin helicopter on board HMS St Albans, helped to escort the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov carrier task group back through the Channel, this week.


The Type 23 frigate kept watch on the Russian aircraft carrier, as it passed close to UK territorial waters on its way home from operations in Syria.HMS St Albans, and the Culdrose Merlin helicopter equipped with its state-of-the-art radar, worked with RAF Typhoon aircraft to monitor the ship and provide reassurance to the nations which border the North Sea and English Channel.


HMS St Albans job is to keep a watchful eye on the Russian ship, providing reassurance to the nations that border the North Sea and the English Channel.As well as carrying out escort duties, due to a RNAS Culdrose Merlin helicopter being on-board, HMS St Albans is also able to be a highly capable submarine hunter. The aviators from 829 Naval Air Squadron use the Merlin's advanced technology to find and track submarines who may attempt to enter UK or allied waters.


This vital work can result in the ship staying at sea on operational tasks for weeks and sometimes months at a time, protecting the nation’s seas and supporting the Trident submarines which provide the United Kingdom’s strategic nuclear deterrent.


Commander Mike Currie, Commander of the Merlin Force at RNAS Culdrose said: “The Merlin helicopter and Type 23 Frigate combination is a capable force that sits at continuously high alert, ready to react with potency if required in the Royal Navy’s defence of our nation’s territorial waters.”


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.”


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.


This latest task comes at the start of a busy year for the Royal Navy, following on from 12 months of high activity in 2016. This included responding to Russian activity in the North Sea, English Channel and North Atlantic, supporting EU and NATO-led operations in the Mediterranean and Aegean, helping safeguard Britain’s overseas territories and taking the fight to Daesh by leading a US Navy task force in the Gulf.


At the peak of activity in 2016, Royal Navy sailors were involved in 22 operations at home and abroad, serving on nearly 30 ships, submarines, support vessels and Fleet Air Arm Squadrons – involving 8,325 sailors and Royal Marines in all. This pace of operations will continue into 2017 and during the first quarter of the year, one third of the Royal Navy’s front-line strength will be deployed on global operations.


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