Royal Navy Shadows Russian Destroyer Through English Channel

HMS Westminster (foreground) shadows the Russian destroyer Kulakov with HMS Tyne (background) (Royal Navy)

Published Jun 21, 2020 5:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster shadowed a Russian destroyer through the English Channel.

Portsmouth-based HMS Westminster, along with patrol ship HMS Tyne, monitored the passage of the Russian warship Vice Admiral Kulakov as it passed south through the English Channel.

“The Royal Navy routinely monitors the passage of warships through the UK’s area of interest as part of its ongoing mission to support the defence of the UK," said Commander Will Paston, the CO of HMS Westminster. “The Vice Admiral Kulakov conducted itself in a safe and professional manner throughout its transit.”

Royal Navy sailors and aircrew monitored the movement of the Russian warship using radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, tracking the ship’s course and speed as it passed the British Isles.

HMS Westminster, a Type 23 frigate, is supported by an embarked Merlin helicopter from 814 Naval Air Squadron.

“Once again the Royal Navy has proven its ability to maintain the sovereignty of the United Kingdom territorial waters," said Minister for the Armed Forces James Heapey.

The Vice Admiral Kulakov is a 1981-built Udaloy-class destroyer. She was sidelined in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and she only returned to service in 2010. Shortly after reactivation she deployed for anti-piracy duty in the Gulf of Aden. She was part of the Russian naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean at the height of the Syrian Civil War; on her return from that mission, she was escorted through the English Channel by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset. 

In a quieter era, before tensions rose between NATO and an increasingly assertive Russia, Vice Admiral Kulakov sailed to UK ports on several goodwill visits. In 2013, she was present in Liverpool for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.