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Royal Navy has desperate shortage, says former First Sea Lord

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Staff Writer | February 2, 2018
Tasking a minehunter with intercepting two Russian submarines and a support ship shows a "desperate shortage" of appropriate escort vessels, a former head of the Royal Navy has said.
Royal Navy
Defense   Labour peer Admiral Lord West of Spithead
Labour peer Admiral Lord West of Spithead also warned that the UK is moving into an "area of great danger" owing to a diminishing fleet size.

His comments came as the Sun newspaper first reported that Portsmouth-based HMS Cattistock was deployed to escort two Kilo-class Russian submarines and a Silva-class support tug through the English Channel last August.

The minehunter left Portsmouth for the Baltic region earlier in the month as part of a three-month deployment.

Confirming the "glass-reinforced plastic" ship was tasked with the escort, a Royal Navy spokesman said it was the "most appropriate vessel for this particular task at that time".

"There is always one Royal Navy ship that is designated as the Fleet Ready Escort (FRE), although there are always a number of Royal Navy units available in UK waters that could conduct this role depending on the tasking," he added.

It is believed the two submarines and support ship were not operational at the time, were on delivery sailings, and that standby frigate HMS Westminster was busy undertaking another duty.