- At least one and possibly two Russian submarines hunted the Astute-class vessel
- Two Russian frigates were also involved in the pursuit under the Mediterranean
- It comes amid growing tensions over US-led airstrikes against the Assad regime
A Royal Navy submarine has been hunted by Russian warships in a ‘cat and mouse’ pursuit under the eastern Mediterranean, it has emerged.
At least one and possibly two Russian hunter-killer submarines, nicknamed ‘the Black Hole’ because of their stealth, chased the British Astute-class submarines over several days, it is reported.
It comes amid growing tensions between Britain and Russia following the UK’s involvement in airstrikes against Syria and the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
The Russian Kilo-class submarines tracked the British crew as they suspected the UK was putting cruise missiles within range of Syria before the airstrikes, The Sunday Times reports.
A Royal Navy submarine has been hunted by Russian warships in a ‘cat and mouse’ pursuit under the Mediterranean. Pictured: HMS Astute, one of Britain’s Astute-class submarines
Two Russian frigates and an anti-submarine aircraft are also said to have been involved in the Russian effort to search for the British vessel, according to a military source.
No British submarines were in fact used in the strikes on Syrian military targets, which came in response to a chemical attack by the Assad regime.
The newspaper reports that the British boat would have been carrying up to 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The US Navy was also flying patrol aircraft over the area to track Russian boats and protect its ally Britain, it is reported.
Nick Childs of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said submarine commanders were trained not to fire too many missiles at once as they would give away their position.
Britain’s nuclear-powered Astute submarines cost around £1.2billion each and have been commissioned since 2010.
The Russian Kilo-class submarines are powered by diesel generators and can reach a top speed of 20 knots.
Britain, the U.S. and France launched 105 missiles on Syria, destroying military targets such as the Bazrah Research Center on the outskirts of Damascus.
Two Russian frigates and an anti-submarine aircraft are also said to have been involved in the Russian effort to search for the British vessel. Pictured: HMS Astute