Russia locked in ‘new Battle of the Atlantic’ as it eyes up waters surrounding Britain
Russian submarines have the capability to knock out vital seabed infrastructure, sink ships, and even launch missile strikes on cities, says Iain Ballantyne.
13:23, Tue, Nov 29, 2022 | UPDATED: 15:49, Tue, Nov 29, 2022
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Russia and the West are locked in a “potentially deadly game of hunter and hunted” which adds up to a “new Battle of the Atlantic”, an expert in naval warfare has warned. Iain Ballantyne, the editor of WARSHIPS International Fleet Review, was speaking in a month in which the Russian Navy commissioned its Project 636.3 submarine Ufa (P-588) with a ceremony in St Petersburg, underlining President Vladimir Putin’s maritime ambitions as his war on Ukraine ticked past the nine-month mark.
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Almost simultaneously, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this month announced details of a £4.2billion contract for defence manufacturer BAE Systems to build five more Type 26 frigates, designed for anti-submarine warfare, for the Royal Navy.
Mr Ballantyne, writing exclusively for Express.co.uk, said: “There can be no doubt that in the past few years the potentially deadly game of hunter and the hunted is back on in the North Atlantic and the Arctic.
“It is by no means on the same scale of the old Cold War as the Russian Navy is so much smaller, as are the fleets of NATO.
“It is the nature of the new contest that makes it so dangerous to us all and radically different.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Image: GETTY)
The Tula Russian nuclear-powered submarine is pictured in the Barents Sea (Image: REX/Shutterstock)
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It was no longer just a case of submarine versus submarine under the sea, or surface warships hunting submarines and vice versa although that still happened, Mr Ballantyne said.
Rather, tensions were characterised by the types of craft which Russia was investing in, including so-called “research ships”, he stressed.
He explained: “There are both submarines and ‘research vessels’ in Moscow’s order of battle that can act as mother ships for small undersea craft that can cut cables and pipelines.
“It potentially means Russia can cut us off from energy and also the Internet services that are so vital to so many aspects of our daily lives.”
HMS Astute, an operational nuclear-powered attack submarine in the Royal Navy (Image: Getty)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends Russian Navy Day Celebration in St Petersburg (Image: Getty)
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Mr Ballantyne, whose new book, HMS London, was published earlier this month, added: “It’s worth noting that Russia’s submarines don’t just pose a threat to the seabed infrastructure, they can also also sink ships, launch missiles against cities from hundreds of miles away – something they have been doing in the Ukraine War and previously did during Russia’s Syrian intervention – and they also routinely try to find and trail the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent submarines.
“Once a Trident vessel is detected and shadowed its ability to act as a nuclear deterrent is neutralised.”
American and British senior naval officers have been warning since at least the annexation of Crimea in 2014, that a “new Battle of the Atlantic is on”, Mr Ballantyne pointed out.
He continued: “Also, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in 2017 wrote in a special report for the Policy Exchange think-tank, that Russian undersea forces pose a serious threat to undersea infrastructure of the UK, meaning internet cables in that case.
Fred says : Russian Embassy Orwell Road; and so many people working there. Then the Russian ships that moved into Ireland’s South West waters…it is to simple to think that the fishermen could have solved a debacle of such potential.