Russian sub in Scottish loch

Russian sub in Scottish loch

Russian sub in Scottish loch

Russian sub in Scottish loch

A recent headline from a local paper in Scotland claimed “Royal Navy battleship hunting Russian subs spotted in secret operation on Scots loch,” suggesting that a Royal Navy “battleship” was on a secret mission to hunt Russian submarines in Loch Fyne.

This claim is not accurate.

First, the Royal Navy doesn’t even use battleships anymore but let’s just move on from that. Frigates like HMS Richmond are more nimble and are specifically designed for roles like anti-submarine warfare.

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Royal Navy battleship hunting Russian subs spotted in secret operation on Scots

The term “secret operation” makes it sound like something out of a spy thriller, but that’s not really the case here. Yes, military operations often involve some level of confidentiality, but what HMS Richmond was doing in Loch Fyne was routine training and testing. These exercises are standard and necessary to make sure the ship’s sonar systems work perfectly. So, calling it a “secret operation” is a bit of an exaggeration.

The phrase “hunting Russian subs” suggests there was some immediate threat or active engagement, which isn’t the case. The primary purpose of HMS Richmond being in Loch Fyne was to test and calibrate its sonar systems. This type of testing is crucial for maintaining readiness and ensuring that the frigate can detect and track submarines effectively.

A Royal Navy spokesperson told the UK Defence Journal: “HMS Richmond is currently in the area of Loch Fyne conducting routine trials including Noise Range Testing and Navigational Training.”

In short, HMS Richmond was spotted on Loch Fyne, one of Scotland’s largest lochs, calibrating sonar equipment. These efforts are part of routine training to make sure the ship’s detection systems are in top shape, especially given the current tensions between Britain and Russia.

Why Loch Fyne?

Loch Fyne is a key spot for the Royal Navy to conduct these tests. Its depth and controlled environment make it ideal for measuring how much noise the ship makes underwater and for testing the performance of its sonar systems. Given that HMS Richmond is the Towed Array Patrol Ship (TAPS), these exercises help ensure the ship is ready to detect and track submarines, especially around strategic locations like Faslane, where the UK’s Vanguard-class submarines are based.

HMS Richmond’s activities in Loch Fyne were focused on fine-tuning its detection and stealth capabilities. This kind of preparation is crucial, especially now, with the geopolitical tensions involving Russia. Regularly testing and calibrating the sonar systems ensures that the Royal Navy can respond swiftly and effectively to any potential underwater threats.

When asked for comment on the story by the newspaper in question, I tried to explain these points to provide clarity and context about HMS Richmond’s actual activities and purpose in Loch Fyne. However, unfortunately, much was removed.

For more on what Loch Fyne is used for, please see this excellent writeup from NavyLookout.


While the article highlights important aspects of HMS Richmond’s operations, it contains some incorrect elements that could mislead readers. I have great respect for the journalists involved, and my intention is not to criticise them personally as they are fantastic at what they do. Accurate reporting in defence matters, however, is incredibly important for public understanding and national security, especially with increased tensions.


Moreover, if a Russian submarine were within our territorial waters and that close to the home of the nuclear deterrent, it would be a major breach of international law. Submarines are only allowed to transit national waters for innocent passage on the surface. It stands to reason that such an incident if it had happened, would have resulted in a much bigger flurry of activity than a single frigate sailing up Loch Fyne.

The presence of a foreign submarine in such a sensitive area would trigger extensive military and diplomatic responses, indicating a significant escalation in tensions.

Even ignoring the Ministry of Defence’s denial, the fact that there was no such heightened activity should suggest that no Russian submarine was in the vicinity. A more straightforward account helps everyone understand the significance of these routine military exercises without causing unnecessary alarm or confusion.

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