Big boat in big trouble? UK beats ‘Russia threat’ drums as its new aircraft carrier heads for trials

The Royal Navy is sending its brand new £3 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to the US for trials. The ship will be well guarded, yet Navy bigwigs are still complaining about “frightening” Russians who might target it.

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Top officers of the Navy have shared their concerns ahead of the first big journey of the behemoth 71,650-ton aircraft carrier across the Atlantic to the US. The ship will undergo trials there and make a port call in New York.

“Russian submarines are more active in the North Atlantic than they have been since the Cold War and we take that very seriously,” said Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group. “The ship will be well protected as she makes her transit across the Atlantic.”

The captain of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, Jerry Kyd, took that sentiment even further, stating that the “frightening” Russian activities he supposedly saw over the past couple of years were “quite eye-watering.” Betton stressed that the Navy is “not seeking confrontation” and that the ship is heading to the US solely for “trials,” speaking as though the carrier group had actually received threats.

While a confrontation between the two marine powers is unlikely, the British and Russian military traded barbs last year over their flagships. Russian Defense Ministry called the HMS Queen Elizabeth a “big convenient marine target,” comparing it to a queen bee that is not capable of defending itself without a “hive” of other warships.

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That comment was made in response to former British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon calling Russia’s battle-hardened aircraft-carrying cruiser the Admiral Kuznetsov “old and dilapidated,” adding that Moscow should “envy” the British ship.

The remarks by the top Royal Navy officers were promptly picked up by British media, which mainly put emphasis on the ‘big scary Russians’ part. 

The articles “fit into the general tendency of replicating all sorts of false information in the context of the anti-Russian campaign,” the Russian embassy in the UK said in a statement. “The British simply have no real grounds for intimidating the public.”

The Royal Navy, along with British media, have indeed showed quite an obsession with “finding” and “intercepting” Russian warships and submarines sailing near Britain’s waters over the past few years. Even though the submarines were often not even in hiding, instead traveling openly in an underwater position, that did not stop the British media from hailing the Navy. In some extreme cases, Russian ships that were not even armed still required an escort from the Royal Navy.

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