The British Royal Navy has deployed two frigates and a tanker on a Baltic maritime security patrol mission to safeguard freedom of navigation rights.

HMS Lancaster, HMS Westminster, and RFA Tiderace will join an international task group consisting of Estonian minelayer Wambola, Latvian patrol vessel Jelgava, and Lithuania minelayer Jotvingis and patrol ship Selis.

The international fleet, which is being led by the British Navy, also includes aircraft from the Swedish Air Force.

The British ships have completed the ‘full-throttle’ individual and combined training in the North Sea before joining the other vessels on the deployment.

Portsmouth-based Lancaster commanding officer commander Will Blackett said: “It is a real privilege to command the first task group of this type and I have been impressed by the capabilities on display from our partner nations.

“My ship’s company are continuing to deliver success on operations against the hugely challenging backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

The latest deployment is ‘another test of elements’ of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) partnership.

It is a pool of high-readiness forces from nine northern European nations. The JEF jointly work warfighting, humanitarian assistance and defence engagement operations.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Some of the UK’s closest and most steadfast allies are found in the Baltics.

“This deployment is both the latest example of a long and proud history of defence cooperation and a clear demonstration of the capability of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force.”

“As the first maritime patrol is made up of exclusively JEF nations, we are ensuring our ships and people are ready to operate in challenging conditions alongside our Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Swedish allies.”