UK on high security after Russian nuke sub spotted off Scottish coast

A Russian nuclear submarine capable of launching cruise missiles was spotted off the west coast of Scotland, prompting an alert.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence Secretary Grant Shapps were given a secret briefing after the Yasen-class submarine Kazan was detected.

An RAF surveillance plane trailed the movements of the 13,800-tonne sub along the Irish coast to Scotland. The Russian vessel passed by Britain’s nuclear naval base in Faslane, on Gare Loch, without crossing into British waters – prompting swift reports back to the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, London.

HM Naval Base Clyde, the Royal Navy’s main presence in Scotland, is home to the core of the submarine service, including the nation’s nuclear deterrent and the new generation of hunter-killer submarines.

uk on high security after russian nuke sub spotted off scottish coast

The Russian nuclear submarine Kazan arrives in Cuba last week after it had been tracked off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland

The Kazan was picked up by an RAF Poseidon P8 anti-submarine aircraft on June 5 and arrived in Cuba exactly a week later.

The action was widely seen as a Russian show of force as tensions rise over the Ukraine war.

Military commanders were reportedly concerned the sub could be looking for vulnerabilities around UK waters.

Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Crawford, who now works as a defence and security consultant, said: ‘The Achilles’ Heel for the British Isles is Ireland. They have virtually no military capability to monitor or counter such Russian forays, and the Kremlin is not unaware of this.’

Last night a Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘We routinely monitor UK territorial waters and the adjacent sea areas to deter malign activity and to protect our national interests.’

When the submarine came within 25 miles of the Florida coast last week on its way to Cuba, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US would remain vigilant.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said such exercises were routine, adding: ‘This is a normal practice for all states, including a large maritime power as Russia.’

uk on high security after russian nuke sub spotted off scottish coast

The crew on deck during the Cuba visit

uk on high security after russian nuke sub spotted off scottish coast

Putin has claimed that the Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles aboard the submarine are 'unstoppable'

Cuba’s foreign ministry and US officials said the vessel carried no nuclear weapons, but Russian pro-war Telegram channels boasted that Kazan had ‘guided missile weapons’ on board as it passed close to the US coastline.

Kazan, half-submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbour alongside an Admiral Gorshkov frigate on Wednesday after conducting ‘high-precision missile weapons’ training in the Atlantic.

The frigate, part of a fleet of similar ships, is armed with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles which are capable of hitting sea and ground targets. Putin has claimed they are unstoppable.

Both the Admiral Gorshkov and the Kazan are key vessels in Putin’s nuclear strike force.

Russia has four Yasen-class subs and Nato officials have flagged them as ‘one of the big strategic challenges’ the west faces.

Costing around £200million, the Gorshkov frigates are equipped with modern stealth features and highly sensitive radar systems. They also have a large calibre gun, torpedo tubes and a helicopter.

Former Royal Navy officer and frigate captain Tom Sharpe wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the Russian deployment was ‘a small but well-armed group and should not be dismissed out of hand’.

He said Russia will be ‘keen to demonstrate it can operate a task group at range from the motherland’ and ‘to some degree this has been done’.

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