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HMS Somerset’s tsar turn as she spends Easter monitoring Russian task group
30 March 2016

HMS Somerset shadowed the Russian destroyer Kulakov and her supporting ships (tug and tanker) as they passed up the English Channel and into the North Sea.

The Russian group was returning to its homeland after being deployed to Syria.

Pictures: ET Ryan Curtis, HMS Somerset

HMS Somerset shepherds Russian destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov through the Channel – part of a six-day mission which kept the 200 crew away from loved ones over Easter.

The frigate – along with her Merlin helicopter – was on patrol when they received orders to shadow the Kulakov and her supporting ships (tug and tanker) as they passed up the English Channel and into the North Sea.

The Russian group was returning to its homeland after being deployed to Syria.

Somerset intercepted the Task Group off Brest as it approached the south west of the UK on Wednesday and remained with the Kulakov as she twice took on fuel in open waters in the North Sea and off the Scottish coast.

The frigate kept a watchful eye on the ships as they anchored in international waters, 20 miles from land in the Moray Firth, to avoid Storm Katie which barrelled through the UK over the Easter Weekend.

The Royal Navy wasn’t the only NATO force monitoring the Kulakov’s progress: France’s FS La Motte-Picquet and the Dutch HNLMS Friesland also tracked the Russian task group as it passed French and Dutch waters respectively. 

“The transit of Russian ships from the Mediterranean to their northern ports is not unusual, but the Royal Navy is ready at all times to protect UK territorial waters,” said Cdr Michael Wood, Somerset’s CO.

His ship is the Fleet Ready Escort – the warship at immediate notice to respond to any potential events in and around UK waters.

The frigate has now returned to Plymouth before resuming patrols after a spot of maintenance.