Royal Navy reveals warship seen from South Shields is shadowing Russian naval task group

A warship spotted from South Shields is shadowing a Russian naval task group passing through the North Sea, the Royal Navy has revealed.

By Ross Robertson
Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 5:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 9:18 am
HMS Defender. Picture issued by the Royal Navy
HMS Defender. Picture issued by the Royal Navy

Ship enthusiasts were impressed to see HMS Defender sitting outside the piers of the Tyne harbour at the end of February.

The Royal Navy announced today that Type 45 destroyer was called upon to sail over the weekend and keep watch on the frigate Admiral Gorshkov and three auxiliary ships as they passed close to UK territorial waters.

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The Portsmouth-based Defender is monitoring the Russian task group and keeping track of their activity "in areas of national interest".

Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster, said: “The Royal Navy is always standing ready to defend the UK.

“We will continue to work with our allies to shadow Russian ships passing through international waters close to our shores, to ensure the Russian navy follows the correct protocol on its journey.”

While in the Tyneside area, HMS Defender was was conducting training exercises with her embarked helicopter and sea boats, and spent some time moored up the river at Newcastle.

She left the river on Saturday March 2 to head north east of Scotland and meet the Russian task group in time for them to pass the UK coastline yesterday.

The vessel will continue to escort the Russian naval task group this week as it passes through the English Channel.

The group comprises of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, tug Nicolay Chiker, supply ship Elbrus and tanker Kama.

Commander Richard Hewitt, the Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, said: “The security of the seas around our coastline remains crucial to our national interests.

“Escorting the Admiral Gorshkov has demonstrated the Royal Navy’s enduring commitment to protecting our home waters and readiness to undertake such tasking whenever it’s required.”

The Ministry of Defence said, as a fleet unit preparing to deploy on operations, HMS Defender stands ready to respond to a wide range of short notice tasks. These can range from search and rescue duties to maritime security patrols.

She is equipped with a Wildcat helicopter of Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadron.

The Sampson radar system on top of the ship’s main mast can track hundreds of contacts in the skies from hundreds of miles away. Her Sea Viper missile system can then intercept those targets at four times the speed of sound.