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Royal Navy shadows seven Russian warships 'after unusually high levels of activity in English Channel and North Sea'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 26/03/2020 Luke O'Reilly
a blue and white boat traveling across a large body of water © Provided by Evening Standard

Nine Royal Navy vessels shadowed seven Russian warships after detecting high levels of activity by Russian vessels off the UK's coastline.

It comes as the UK's army is busy converting the ExCeL London into a pop-up hospital to treat the country’s sick during the coronavirus outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the ExCeL site in London will become a temporary hospital equipped with two wards of 2,000 beds.

The hospital has been named Nightingale Hospital after the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

"The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea," the Royal Navy said in a statement.

"As the Navy’s logistics specialists and military planners work with the wider Armed Forces to help the coronavirus response effort, Royal Navy sailors and aircrew were monitoring every movement of the Russian ships using state-of-the-art radar, surveillance cameras and sensors, allowing them to track their course and speed as they passed the British Isles."

Nine Royal Navy vessels were involved in the operation: HMS Kent, HMS Sutherland, HMS Argyll and HMS Richmond, HMS Tyne, HMS Mersey, RFA Tideforce, RFA Tidespring, and HMS Echo.

Lieutenant Nick Ward, HMS Tyne’s Executive Officer, said the Royal Navy is committed to keeping the UK safe while the army help the NHS save lives on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the Armed Forces are helping the NHS save lives in the UK, it’s essential the Navy continues to deliver the tasks we have always performed to help keep Britain safe", Lieutenant Ward said.

“This is very much part of routine business for HMS Tyne and represents one of the many roles our patrol vessels perform in support of the Royal Navy’s commitments.

“This is our core business and represents an enduring commitment to uphold the security of the UK.”

https://cdn.jwplayer.com/players/Vzmcuvba-hKY5LbS1.html
Medical activity at temporary coronavirus hospital in London

Earlier this month the Government announced that up to 20,000 service personnel will form part of a Covid Support Force.

Military personnel have been enlisted to assist in previous national emergencies, most recently during widespread flooding caused by storms Ciara and Dennis.

During the 2012 London Olympics, some 13,500 troops were called to provide logistical support and venue security.

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