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Royal Navy confirms presence of Russian spy ships off Scotland

Intelligence gathering ship Viktor Leonov (left9 and tanker Sergey Osipov
Royal Navy photo of intelligence gathering ship Viktor Leonov (left9 and tanker Sergei Osipov

The Royal Navy has disclosed it is keeping close watch on two Russian ships operating off the east coast of Scotland, after reports from a few days ago pointed to possible presence of “spy” ships in the region.

Patrol ship HMS Tyne has been monitoring the actions of intelligence-gathering vessel Viktor Leonov and her supporting tanker Sergey Osipov which have been sailing around the Moray Firth.

The Portsmouth-based warship’s tasking falls under Defence Task One – protecting the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom.

In that role she has been observing the Russian vessels as they sheltered from Storm Aiden and carried out replenishment operations, before the Osipov left UK waters.

“It was apparent these two ships were making use of the shelter from the high winds and inclement seas of Storm Aiden, and Tyne remained close by to monitor their activity,” said Lieutenant Justin Shirtcliff, the ship’s operations officer.

It’s the third time in a month that the patrol ship has shadowed foreign warships in home waters – partly in conjunction with NATO allies.

Tyne shadowed a group of Russian warships including corvette Vasily Bykov, a Kilo-class submarine and their accompanying support vessel, an ocean going tug.

She was assisted by Portuguese frigate NRP Corte Real from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1, which ensured constant surveillance of the Russian units as they moved through UK waters.

Royal Navy photo of a Russian kilo submarine taken during its transit through the English Channel