Earlier this year, Moscow considered the Royal Navy’s deployment to the Black Sea a provocation, yet this week it was business as usual as a Russian warship entered the English Channel as part of a long-distance deployment. The Northern Fleet’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov began the transit of the English Channel on Wednesday. The destroyer was reported to be escorted by multiple other Russian vessels—reported to be the sea tanker Akademik Pashin and the rescue tug Altai making part of the naval task force.
"A group of ships and support vessels of the Northern Fleet led by the large anti-submarine destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov has transited the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean and entered the English Channel," the press office said in a statement to TASS.
The anti-submarine destroyer is completing a long-distance deployment that began on June 28 at the Northern Fleet's main naval base of Severomorsk, on the coast of the Barents Sea along the Kola Bay. The warship's crew participated in Russia's Main Naval Parade off Kronshtadt on July 31, and then took part in a command and staff exercise in the Atlantic Ocean.
From August 18–23, the Northern Fleet’s sailors operated in the Mediterranean, and during that time the ship made port-of-call visits to Algeria, Syria and Cyprus. Also, the fleet conducted a series of drills for various types of defenses for a group of ships in transit by sea and practiced hunting down a notional enemy submarine. Last month, the Russian Navy warship provided security of shipping in the Gulf of Guinea off Africa’s Atlantic coast. Since the end of June, the Vice-Admiral Kulakov has traveled in excess of 25,500 nautical miles in its deployment in distant waters.
The Vice-Admiral Kulakov is likely on its way back to Severomorsk. While that was not confirmed by the Northern Fleet's press office, it was reported that before entering the strait, additional navigational safety exercises were held with the warship's watch officers. A similar exercise was held aboard the sea tanker as well as on the rescue tug, which escorted the destroyer as it began the transit from the Atlantic Ocean to the English Channel.
The large anti-submarine destroyer conducted a similar deployment last year, and returned to port last December after five months at sea, during which time the warship operated in the Mediterranean Sea from and took part in more than ten drills for hunting submarines, including in interaction with other ships of the Russian Navy.
The Project 1155 Udaloy-class large anti-submarine warship is armed with anti-submarine missile systems, rocket launchers, torpedo tubes and other types of artillery and missile armament. She also carries two Ka-27 ASW helicopters. The warship displaces 6,200 tons and measures 535 feet with a beam of sixty-two feet. Approximately three hundred sailors serve on the Vice-Admiral Kulakov.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.