Heavily Armed Russian Navy Ships Sailing Between Britain And Ireland

Heavily Armed Russian Navy Ships Sailing Between Britain And Ireland

In a proactive move, a group of Russian Navy ships are currently entering the Irish Sea. There are clear indications that they will sail up and around the United Kingdom. Among other things, this might take them close to major submarine base of Faslane. Ultimately the route that they take may still be via the Atlantic or English Channel.

The group is led by the SLAVA class cruiser Marshal Ustinov. The UDALOY class destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov and a tanker, Vyazma, are with her (him).

CLICK to Enlarge. Screenshsot from MarineTraffic.com indicating current position.

The exact positions of the cruiser and destroyer are not currently visible by open sources. But the tanker is broadcasting its position on AIS (automated identification system). It has passed the entrance of the English Channel and is sailing into the Irish Sea. A Royal Navy warship, indicated to be HMS Lancaster, is shadowing them.

Ustinov left the Mediterranean on August 24 and has slowly approached the UK, The Russian warships are understood to be returning home after over 6 months deployed to the Mediterranean to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. When the warship was deploying there in January it planned live firing exercises in Irish EEZ (exclusive Economic Zone), at the time a controversial move. These had to be relocated after Irish fishermen complained.

Russia has limited facilities in the Mediterranean and cannot maintain individual vessels there indefinitely. One by one they will have to return home, weakening the Russian position there.

The cruiser is the sister ship (brother ship in Russian convention?) of the ill fated Moskva. The latter was sunk By Ukrainian forces in the Black Sea on April 13-14. Ustinov is however a more updated ship. Part of the Russian Navy’s northern fleet, she relieved upgraded systems and weapons.

Even on their homeward voyage the route that they take appears provocative, sending a message to NATO members.

Marshal Ustinov, SLAVA Class cruiser
Marshal Ustinov, SLAVA Class cruiser, seen leaving the Mediterranean on August 24 2022. Photo Michael J Sanchez

It is also a reminder to Ireland, which is not a NATO member, of its strategic position from a Russian perspective. In many respects Ireland is a weak point on Europe’s western edge


2022-08-30 0750Z
Since posting this, the vessels appear to have done a U-turn and are currently sailing southwest. This is a fluid situation however, we will have to see how it plays out.

Additionally, I have been able to locate the ships in SAR imagery from August 29. This confirms that the tanker is not alone.

CLICK to Enlarge

2022-08-30 1915Z
The Russian vessels are visible in the Sentinel-2 satellite overpass at 11:37Z today. Ustoniv is seen astern the tanker, with the replenishment hose just discernible. This confirms that the change in course, towards the south west, was for replenishment at sea (RAS). Indications are that a few hours later the ships reversed course again, heading back towards Irish Sea.

CLICK to Enlarge

2022-09-02 1147Z
Russian warships still present in Celtic Sea. Observed in Sentinel 2 satellite imagery.

CLICK to Enlarge

2022-09-04 0400Z
After several days loitering in the Celtic Sea, the Russian ships headed south briefly and then started a run through the English Channel overnight September 3-4. OSINT source.

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