Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel HMS Trent entered the Black Sea on Sunday as part of its Mediterranean Sea deployment which started in April this year.
Trent transited the Bosphorus Strait for a port visit to the Ukrainian port city Odessa, and can stay in the Black Sea for a maximum 21 days, as stipulated by the Montreux Convention.
As soon as the OPV entered the region, Russian news reports said Russia had dispatched Black Sea Fleet naval assets to monitor the Royal Navy ship. Earlier this month, a French patrol ship was also tracked by the Russian military in the Black Sea.
The arrival of HMS Trent in the Black Sea is likely a precursor to a much more potent Royal Navy task group that is expected to enter the contested waters soon. According to reports from last month, a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer and a Type 23 frigate that will be part of the maiden operational deployment of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth could break off from the carrier strike group to carry out operations in the Black Sea.
It is worth noting that the UK is also leading a multinational maritime training initiative to boost the ability of the Ukrainian Navy to combat threats in the Black Sea. It is unclear if and how much HMS Trent would contribute to the operation.
The maritime training initiative, announced in 2020, follows the resumption of operation Orbital, the UK’s training mission to Ukraine, which was scaled due to COVID-19. Since the training mission began in 2015, British troops have trained over 18,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). The operation will run until 2023.