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Royal Navy ship buzzed by 17 ‘hostile’ Russian jets off the coast of Crimea



A Royal Navy warship was dangerously buzzed by 17 Russian fighter jets in an act of “brazen hostility” off the coast of Crimea.

HMS Duncan was leading a NATO fleet through the Black Sea when the incident occurred.

One pilots sent a 'good luck' a message to the ship. File pic
One pilot sent a ‘good luck’ a message to the ship. File pic

The jets flew so close that their electronics could have been scrambled by the British ship’s radar system, which may have caused them to crash.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “As NATO flagship, she [HMS Duncan] has faced down brazen Russian hostility in the Black Sea with jets buzzing overhead, been stalked by Russian spy ships and played a vital role protecting NATO allies during the British, American and French strikes against Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

HMS Duncan was leading a NATO fleet through the Black Sea when the incident occurred
HMS Duncan was leading a NATO fleet through the Black Sea when the incident occurred

“Through her deployment, this world-leading ship and her crew epitomised the nation we are going to be as we exit the EU – a truly global Britain which is outward-looking and engaged on the world stage.”

Commodore Mike Utley, who was leading the NATO task force, said the vessel was likely to be the only maritime asset to see a “raid” of that size in the past 25 years.

“I think their tactics are naive,” he said. “What they don’t know is how capable the ship is.

“When you see that much activity, I think it reinforces the nature of what people expect at the moment and why there is a challenge from Russia.”

A Russian coast guard ship rammed a Ukrainian tug in the Black Seaas the tug  amid rising tensions in the region.


Russian coast guard rams Ukrainian vessel

Footage of the incident, which happened in May, has been obtained by a Channel 5 documentary.

It shows the jets circling the British vessel before returning to Russian airspace. One of the pilots sends a message to the ship, saying: “Good luck, guys.”

One of the sailors on board HMS Duncan said they felt the message could have been a warning, while another remained confident their ship’s 48 missiles could have handled the jets.

“To me if felt unprecedented,” said Commander Eleanor Stack, Duncan’s captain. “There were more aircraft than we have seen in a long time.”

The incident followed the warship launching its Merlin Mk2 helicopter to look for a Russian spy ship, which came up on its radar.

“They may consider it [our presence in the Black Sea] to be escalatory, we certainly don’t,” said Lieutenant Commander James Smith. “But it depends on how you spin the narrative. The one thing the Russians are very good at is spinning a narrative.

“We have to demonstrate and create our own as well. They can scream and shout all they want but we still have the right, as do all these units, to be where we are, operating how we are.”

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