Russian ship exposes lack of Royal Navy vessels in Scotland


A Russian Navy ship which arrived unannounced off the Scottish coast has exposed the failure of the Ministry of Defence to provide adequate naval protection for Scottish waters, the SNP has claimed.

It is believed that the Russian navy ship had been taking part in exercises in the Baltic Sea and had been sheltering off the Scottish coast. 

However a lack of defence capability in Scotland meant that a mnitoring vessel had to be deployed from the South East of England.

The incident mirrors a similar situation that occured only two years ago involving an Aircraft Carrier Task Force.  In December 2011 the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and accompanying vessels arrived unexpectedly off the Moray Firth leaving the Ministry of Defence dependent on reports from Scottish fishing vessels until a nearly out of service vessel could be sailed from its base in south coast of England.

Prior to the December incident, the MOD scrapped the entire fleet of Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft which were designed to monitor surface and subsurface vessels.  Amongst northern European armed forces the UK is the only to not have any maritime patrol aircraft.

Before they were scrapped, the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft were based at RAF Kinloss in Moray, the constituency represented by Angus Robertson MP.  The northern Scottish region was strategically placed to launch patrol flights monitoring nearby northern waters. 

Commenting, Mr Robertson who is the Westminster SNP Leader said:

“For the second time in two years the MOD has been left scrabbling to deal with visiting Russian naval vessels off Scotland.

“There is absolutely no problem with Russians or anybody or any other friendly nation seeking shelter off the Scottish coast, but it is the duty of the UK Government to ensure there are timely security escort procedures.

“Again the MOD has been exposed without any maritime patrol aircraft at all and without the proper conventional naval vessels based in Scotland.

“To rely on vessels based on the south coast of England taking more than a day to steam north is embarrassing and is a perfect illustration how the UK Government does not take northern security seriously enough.

“In contrast the Scottish Government is pledged to prioritise the maritime challenges of our region with maritime patrol aircraft and conventional naval vessels following a ‘Yes’ vote in the 2014 independence referendum.

“This will benefit Scottish defence and all of our allies especially northern European neighbours including Norway, Denmark and Iceland as well as the rest of the UK who will have a neighbour in Scotland that will take these matters more seriously than Whitehall does at the moment.”