US To Help Find Suspected Russian Submarine Near Scotland ; UK 'Begging' From Allies Raises Doubts on Defence Capability

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The British Ministry of Defence was forced to request assistance from the U.S. Navy in tracking down a Russian submarine detected near Scotland. Two U.S. Navy aircraft were called in to help conduct anti-submarine patrols alongside the Royal Navy Frigate near Faslane, Argyll.

According to the Independent, critics have questioned the ability of UK military to protect its nuclear submarines after the Nimrod surveillance aircraft of the Royal Air Force was scrapped in 2010. Peter Roberts, a Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies senior fellow, said the cancelled project has left a "gaping chasm" in the UK's defence capabilities and has left the army dependent on assistance from its allies.

Roberts said the deployment of U.S. Navy aircraft and the HMS Somerset are related to Britain's struggle to maintain the security of its borders after cutting its Nimrod surveillance fleet. UK Parliament defence committee member Julian Lewis had described the scrapping of Nimrod as "lethal."

Previous reports have indicated that the presence of a Russian submarine may be linked to the alleged departure of one of the Vanguard-class nuclear submarines of the Royal Navy from the Faslane naval base at Gare Loch on the River Clyde. The Telegraph reported that the Vanguard submarines carried Trident ballistic missiles. Russian submarines that visit both the north and west coasts of Scotland were happening "quite often."

The deployment of the two U.S. Navy aircraft follows a similar mission in November when two U.S. Navy Orions, one Royal Canadian Air Force Aurora and the Dessault Atlantique of France tracked a suspected Russian submarine monitoring one of the UK's four Vanguard-class vessels. A fishing trawler had reported detecting an "unknown submarine periscope" near Faslane.

The search for the alleged Russian submarine came one month after another Russian submarine was reportedly spotted in Stockholm, Sweden during a time when ties with Moscow were at their worst since the Cold War. Scottish National Party defence spokesperson Angus Robertson remarked that the U.S. Navy deployment only demonstrated the UK turning to allies with a "begging bowl" for help, RT News reported.

A representative from the British Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the government had asked the U.S. for help in the basing of maritime patrol aircraft at RAF Lossiemouth for a limited time. The spokesman said the aircraft has been involved in maritime patrol activity with the Royal Navy. He declined to reveal the details of the maritime operations. 

Contact email: r.su@ibtimes.com.au