The new routine of Russian warship transits through the English Channel continues into 2018 as the sustained involvement of the Russian Navy in Syria delivers a regular series of headlines.
A number of ships returning from the Mediterranean generated some interest from the Royal Navy and UK newspapers as they neared UK and French waters. An official statement from the RN said that HMS Westminster was deployed to track the vessels on 05 January. Two Steregushchiy-class corvettes were transiting the channel, Boikiy and Soobrazitelnyy were supported by Paradoks and Kola tankers and activity in the channel on Monday 08 January pointed to a combined Anglo-French effort.
Kola has been a familiar sight on AIS tracking as the tanker supports most transits for the Russian Navy. RFA Wave Knight appeared to be returning to Falmouth or Plymouth whilst the appearance of newly commissioned RFA Tidespring on AIS tracking suggested it could be taking over to support RN tracking operations.
(Will update as necessary)
The Russian Navy conducted simultaneous submarine rescue exercises in Kola Bay in the Barents Sea and Avacha Bay on the Pacific coast. The exercises were carried out on Monday 27 November and demonstrated a range of rescue capabilities including Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and the AS-34 Priz-class Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).
Demonstrating the capability simultaneously on entirely different sides of the planet, on the same day, seems to offer a clear signal that this rehearsal was prompted by the recent loss of the ARA San Juan. The Russian Navy will be especially sensitive to the San Juan tragedy due to the loss of the Kursk and exercising their submarine rescue units might be just as much to boost confidence in the capability internally as it is for external demonstration.
The exercises are all the more significant as the navy has deployed rescue equipment to support the search for the San Juan. The support team flew to Argentina on Saturday 25 November and deployed on board a local vessel with a Panther plus ROV and a diving team.