Royal Navy Frigate and Culdrose Helicopter Escort Russian task group
Two weeks after HMS St Albans and a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose spent Christmas monitoring the new Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, her sister ship HMS Westminster has been protecting home waters by escorting a Russian military task group through the Channel.
As the Fleet Ready Escort, HMS Westminster and its embarked helicopter crew from Culdrose are on immediate notice to move to respond to activity and incidents in home waters. The Type 23 frigate and a Merlin helicopter from 829 Naval Air Squadron were activated on Friday to sail and keep watch on two Russian warships and two supporting vessels as they returned to Russia in stormy conditions.
Over the weekend, they located the Russian vessels and have been keeping track of their activities. The ships and aircraft will stay with the two Steregushchiy-class frigates and support vessels as they head north. The four Russian ships are believed to be returning to the Baltic after operations in the Middle East.
“While today many people are returning to work for the first time in the New Year, my ship’s company have been at sea and at readiness as part of the Royal Navy’s commitment to keep Britain safe at all times,” said Cdr Simon Kelly, Commanding Officer of HMS Westminster. “The English Channel is an absolute lifeline for the UK, and it is very important that the Royal Navy maintains a watchful eye on this key strategic link.”
Cdr Mike Currie, Head of the Merlin Force at RNAS Culdrose said: "The Merlin Mk2 is a versatile Maritime Patrol Helicopter which extends the Frigate’s own sensors. Together the helicopter and Type 23 Frigate provide a highly capable force, always ready to react in defence of our nation’s territorial waters.”