Royal Navy battleship hunting Russian subs spotted in secret operation on Scots loch

A Royal Navy battleship which hunts enemy Russian submarines was spotted on a secret operation in one of Scotland’s biggest lochs.

HMS Richmond, stationed 40 miles inland on Loch Fyne in Argyll and Bute for three days last week, uses underwater listening devices.

Sightings of the 5000-ton frigate – fresh from anti terror operations in the Red Sea – comes at a time of heightened tensions between Britain and Russia over their attack on Ukraine.

Defence expert Philip Ingram said: “It could be the Royal Navy have indications that a submarine from a hostile country has entered the area and they were actively hunting it.

“The Russians will be doing everything they possibly can to track and monitor UK and US submarine capabilities and underwater listening devices.

“They will also be trying to pick up our communications signals.Given our support for Ukraine we are a major focus for the Russians.”

The mission draws similarities to spy thriller The Hunt for Red October, starring Sean Connery as a Soviet submarine captain who heads for US waters.

HMS Richmond was in Loch Fyne between Sunday and Tuesday and earlier in nearby Faslane, home to Britain’s nuclear deterrent and a fleet of hunter-killer subs.

Loch Fyne is also close to the Royal Navy base at Coulport, Loch Long, where Trident nuclear missiles are stored.

Security intelligence expert Philip Ingram
Security intelligence expert Philip Ingram -Credit:Sunday Mirror

Ingram, a former British military intelligence colonel and commentator on defence issues, said: “The threat from Russia is 100 per cent real. They probe us all the time. They try to get in and out without being detected and continuously upgrade their submarine technology to make them more silent.

“Frigates like HMS Richmond were designed to track submarines. It has all the necessary hunting technology.”

HMS Richmond was seen travelling between the hamlet of St Catherine’s and Inveraray Castle, near where the listening devices are located.

The stretch has previously been designated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as a restricted area. It is also a submarine and surface vessel turning point.

Ingram said: “They might also have fitted something new to the frigate and are testing it out.

“Their primary role is to try and identify and track the Russian ballistic missile submarines and Russian hunter killer submarines.”

George Allison, editor of the UK Defence Journal, said: “With the current tensions between Britain and Russia, ensuring that the sonar is functioning optimally would be a high priority.

“This means that if there’s a potential threat, the Navy can respond quickly.”

The arrival of HMS Richmond caused a massive stir to locals whose homes overlook Loch Fyne

One said: “It was an impressive sight to see a navy warship so far inland. It was also alarming. However we also appreciate it is here for our own good.”

In March HMS Richmond intercepted two drones launched by Iran-backed Houthie rebel groups in the Red Sea. In November it was reported the frigate was taking part in Royal Navy’s Anti-Submarine Warfare trials and last year shadowed Russian battleship Admiral Grigorovich in the English Channel.

Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned the world was closer to a “dangerous nuclear escalation” than at any time since the 1960s and Cuban missile crisis.

The UK has pledged £12.5billion to Ukraine since February 2022, of which £7.6billion is in military aid.

The MoD said: “We can’t comment on HMS Richmond’s operations for security reasons.”

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