Royal Navy ship on ‘very high’ alert for Russian submarines returning home for Orthodox Christmas
A Royal Navy ship keeps watch in the North Sea as Russian submarines return home for Orthodox Christmas Day in January.
HMS Westminster is currently being held in “very high readiness” in the Shetland Islands.
The Type 23 frigate is on hand to follow all Russian ships and submarines returning home for Orthodox Christian Christmas Day on January 7, 2022.
HMS Westminster, known throughout the Royal Navy as the ‘Capital Ship’ and launched in 1992, was modernized in 2014. She is now equipped with the Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missile system, which has twice the range of old weapon.
The ship’s primary role at Christmas will be to use its towed array sonar, a hydrophone system dragged along a long cable behind the ship, to listen to the submarines.
Russian naval forces often pass close to British waters at this time of year when they return to Severomorsk, the main administrative base of the Russian Northern Fleet, located on the Barents Sea coast.
Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar from the Gregorian calendar generally used in Western countries.
Many countries celebrate Christmas on January 7, including Russia, which is home to more than a third of the world’s Christians.
The news comes as a second Royal Navy nuclear submarine was seen leaving its base in Faslane, Scotland on December 23.
The Telegraph understands that the Vanguard-class submarine is not yet deployed, but is undergoing training before assuming the role of British nuclear deterrent.
This means that there will be two crews, each of around 120 submariners, as well as around 30 trainers who will be working during the holiday season.
Thousands of military personnel on standby during Christmas time
They join HMS Westminster’s crew of 185 sailors and around 6,000 other members of the armed forces away from their families and homes this Christmas.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defense Staff, said: “We are all indebted to the thousands of members of the armed forces who will spend Christmases deployed overseas or work hard in the UK away from home. families.
“On Christmas Day and all year round, our armed forces sacrifice a lot to protect the UK and its partners, and to support our national interests.
“I want to thank all of our military personnel for their vital work this year and wish them and the entire Armed Forces community a very Merry Christmas.”
In Estonia, more than 650 British troops continue to lead a multinational battle group as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission to deter Russia.