These British Special Forces are Hunting Unmanned Russian Spy Boats

December 1, 2020 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: Royal NavyUnited KingdomDronesRussiaNATO

These British Special Forces are Hunting Unmanned Russian Spy Boats

Last month an unmanned “spy boat,” which was apparently powered by solar panels and designed to avoid detection was found off the coast of Scotland.

Here's What You Need To Remember: One of those four Royal Navy submarines might not be all that hard to find—the Russians or other adversaries may just need to monitor the tabloids as the HMS Vigilant (S30) was once again in the spotlight after her crew was caught up in the latest scandal. More than thirty crewmembers tested positive for the novel coronavirus after the sub made a port visit to the U.S. Navy’s East Coast SSBN hub in Georgia.

The British military has several high profile Special Forces units including the Special Air Service (SAS) and the Special Boat Service (SBS) as well as the elite Royal Marine Commandos. Now another unit has reportedly been created to hunt for Russian military spy drones that are believed to operate in new top secret sites.

While the UK’s Ministry of Defence hasn’t officially commented on the creation of the unit, reports in the media suggest the unit was set up after a mystery “spy boat” washed up near the Royal Navy nuclear submarine base.

Naval chiefs, who recently set up the unit, had it deployed to Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Clyde. The base is sited at Faslane on the Gare Loch, one of the three operating bases in the UK for the Royal Navy. It is the naval headquarters in Scotland and is home to Britain’s nuclear submarines, which are armed with Trident missiles.

Members of the newly-created team have been deployed to the waters around the base to track down underwater drones and other surveillance equipment that may have been placed around the Clyde estuary near the route the Trident missile-armed Royal Navy fleet would take to reach the open sea.

Last month an unmanned “spy boat,” which was apparently powered by solar panels and designed to avoid detection was found off the coast of Scotland, the Daily Mail reported. While no country has come forward to claim the boat, the Ministry of Defence has pointed fingers at Moscow, which has increased its presence in waters controlled by the Royal and U.S. navies.

The fear now is that the Russian military could attempt to track and capture the unique “acoustic signature” of the Vanguard-class of submarines as they emerge into the deep ocean. If successful, this could be used to track the submarines almost anywhere in the world.

“Capturing the acoustic signature is quite the prize in the cat-and-mouse game of submarine hunting,” a UK-based defense industry expert told the Daily Mail. “The Russians know our four Trident boats are a potent threat and knowing exactly what they sound like can help pick them out in a noisy ocean.”

One of those four Royal Navy submarines might not be all that hard to find—the Russians or other adversaries may just need to monitor the tabloids as the HMS Vigilant (S30) was once again in the spotlight after her crew was caught up in the latest scandal. More than thirty crewmembers tested positive for the novel coronavirus after the sub made a port visit to the U.S. Navy’s East Coast SSBN hub in Georgia. Members of the crew broke importation isolation rules and headed off to bars, restaurants and strip clubs; with some traveling nearly 200 miles to Cocoa Beach, Florida. Additionally, the Lieutenant Commander Len Louw, a weapons engineering officer in charge of the nuclear missiles, reported drunk and with a bucket of barbecue chicken in tow when he finally turned up for his shift on the submarine.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. This article first appeared earlier this year.

Image: Reuters