The British Royal Navy’s Type 23 Duke-class frigate, HMS Westminster, has escorted a Russian military task group through the English Channel and areas of UK interest.

The Royal Navy vessel was deployed on 5 January to sail and keep watch on the two of the Russian Navy’s Steregushchiy-class frigates, Soobrazitelny and Boiky, as well as two supporting vessels as the ships pass close to UK territorial waters in stormy conditions.

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It successfully sailed to meet up with the Russian vessels, while keeping track of the ships’ activities in areas of UK national interest.

HMS Westminster is set to remain at sea as the two Russian Navy warships and their accompanying support vessels, Paradoks and Kola, head towards north.

"HMS Westminster’s role as the Royal Navy’s fleet ready escort is to be at very high readiness to respond to anything the British Government requires."

The Russian Navy vessels are reported to be returning to the Baltic Sea after carrying out operations in the Middle East.

The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and UK shipping industry contributes more than £10bn to the country’s economy.

It is therefore considered necessary for the Royal Navy to ensure its continued security.

HMS Westminster commanding officer commander Simon Kelly said: “HMS Westminster’s role as the Royal Navy’s fleet ready escort is to be at very high readiness to respond to anything the British Government requires.”

Kelly added: “The English Channel is an absolute lifeline for the UK, and it is very important HMS Westminster and the Royal Navy maintains a watchful eye on this key strategic link.”

The Type 23 frigate features a Merlin helicopter from the Culdrose-based 829 Naval Air Squadron and a latest and advanced radar solution, in addition to the navy’s new Sea Ceptor missile system.

The vessel originally assumed the role of the Royal Navy’s fleet ready escort at the beginning of this year.