HMS St Albans continues ‘keeping Britain safe’

PUBLISHED: 14:29 04 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:30 04 February 2017

HMS St Albans escorted a Russian warship through the Channel. Photo courtesy of Royal Navy

HMS St Albans escorted a Russian warship through the Channel. Photo courtesy of Royal Navy

Royal Navy

A Russian aircraft carrier had a ‘saintly’ shadow last week, as it passed close to UK territorial waters.

Royal Navy warship HMS St Albans escorted the Russian Admiral Kuznetsov carrier task group back through the Channel on January 25.

The ship, dubbed ‘The Saint’ by her company, has close ties with the city of St Albans, with its representatives regularly attending local ceremonies and parades. It is principally affiliated to the current Duke of St Albans, who lives in London.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon criticised the group’s presence, saying: “We will keep a close eye on the Admiral Kuznetsov as it skulks back to Russia; a ship of shame whose mission has only extended the suffering of the Syrian people.

“We are man-marking these vessels every step of the way around the UK as part of our steadfast commitment to keep Britain safe.”

HMS St Albans is now in Norway. Photo courtesy of Twitter/@HMSStAlbansHMS St Albans is now in Norway. Photo courtesy of Twitter/@HMSStAlbans

The Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate kept a close watch on the Russian aircraft carrier, which was being accompanied by a cruiser and a salvage tug, as it passed close to UK territorial waters on its way home from operations in Syria.

HMS St Albans, equipped with a Merlin helicopter and state-of-the-art radar, has worked in company with RAF Typhoon aircraft to monitor the ship and provide reassurance to the nations which border the North Sea and English Channel.

Remaining at a respectful distance, but keeping the Russian warships clearly visible, Royal Navy sailors kept watch on every movement through their binoculars and used state-of-the-art radars to track the course and speed of the ships as they passed close to the UK.

Commander Chris Ansell, the Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, said: “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.

“My ship’s company of 190 sailors take great pride in the role they play as one of the UK’s on-call warships to deal with this type of situation.”

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.

Having completed its task, shadowing the Russian warships, HMS St Albans is currently visiting Norway.

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