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Britain sends warships to North Sea to protect underwater gas and oil pipelines and internet cables

Britain sends warships to North Sea to protect underwater gas and oil pipelines and internet cables

Britain sends warships to the North Sea to protect undersea gas and oil pipelines and internet cables from Russian sabotage after Nordstream exploded in suspected Kremlin attack

  • The Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset and the survey vessel HMS Enterprise have been deployed, the Ministry of Defense has confirmed
  • Comes amid fears the pipelines, platforms and undersea cables the UK relies on are at risk of further attacks
  • HMS Enterprise uses sonar and miniature drones to conduct surveys that examine and map the seabed
  • Somerset, meanwhile, is a frigate previously used to monitor Russian naval destroyers in British waters.

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Britain sent warships to the North Sea to protect undersea gas and oil pipelines and internet cables from Russian sabotage after the Nordstream exploded in a suspected Kremlin attack.

The Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset and the hydrographic vessel HMS Enterprise have been deployed amid fears the pipelines, platforms and undersea cables that countries like Britain rely on for energy are at risk of suffering new attacks.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace moved to “reassure” those working near pipelines after Western intelligence agencies were caught off guard by pipeline explosions.

A naval source told The Times: ‘There are a number of uncertainties associated with this area and the infrastructure.

“The likelihood of anything happening is low, but people are worried and what better system to have than a ship with good radar and sonar?”

HMS Enterprise uses sonar and miniature drones to carry out “oceanographic and hydrographic surveys examining and mapping the seabed”.

HMS Somerset, meanwhile, is a “fast, adaptable and versatile frigate” that has previously been deployed to monitor Russian naval destroyers in British waters.

It comes as Europe’s critical infrastructure is now at risk after Nord Stream gas pipes exploded in an attack widely believed to be orchestrated by Russia, senior politicians, defense chiefs and experts.

Norway would also strengthen its security presence around pipelines following threats to its offshore gas platforms.

It suggests that the UK – linked to Norway via two major pipelines that carry a third of that country’s gas – is also at risk.

Britain’s largest oil and gas fields, which are dotted with dozens of rigs and criss-crossed with pipes, are also near Norwegian waters.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace pictured during a roundtable at the Warsaw Security Forum in Warsaw, Poland, yesterday

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace pictured during a roundtable at the Warsaw Security Forum in Warsaw, Poland, yesterday

The frigate HMS Somerset pictured at the Frigate Support Center at HMNB Devonport.  It's about a

The frigate HMS Somerset pictured at the Frigate Support Center at HMNB Devonport. It is a “fast, adaptable and versatile frigate” which has previously been deployed to monitor Russian naval destroyers in British waters.

The release of gas from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea last week

The release of gas from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea last week

Explosions were heard near the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines last week, where gas is leaking into the Baltic from three holes.

Western leaders, including European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, have accused Russia of sabotage.

But Mr Wallace refused to blame Russia outright for the explosions.

He said: “We often see suspicious Russian spy ship activity in the area of ​​our cables and pipelines.

“We are all deeply vulnerable, because we are so dependent on our internet cables and our pipelines in the North Sea oilfields. That’s why I made the decision to deploy HMS Enterprise and a frigate to support Norway.

Mr Wallace admitted the UK ‘received no direct warning’ of the attack, but said he would push for a new vessel capable of launching drones and monitoring the seabed looking for threats to undersea cables.

The vessel will be modified to counter the growing threat from Russia, while work on a second vessel is expected to begin next year.

The West has been scrambling to bolster its defenses after the pipeline explosions, with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Denmark last week for talks which he said “discussed the protection of critical infrastructure”.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, Norway’s prime minister, said the country’s military would also be visibly deployed around oil and gas rigs to protect them.

Britain’s largest oil and gas fields, which are dotted with dozens of rigs and criss-crossed with pipes, are also near Norwegian waters.

A huge swath of the Baltic Sea is pictured from this helicopter flyby showing bubbles breaking the surface amid gas leaking

A huge swath of the Baltic Sea is pictured from this helicopter flyby showing bubbles breaking the surface amid gas leaking

The Kremlin denied any involvement in the explosions, calling the suggestion “stupid”. But Russia has the capability to carry out such an attack.

Putin commands the world’s largest fleet of spy submarines, including one – the Belgorod – which was specifically designed to attack undersea cables, and has easy access to the Baltic via Kaliningrad and St Petersberg, where his fleet of newly developed underwater drones is also based.

The Russian strongman has accused the West of sabotaging Russian-made Nord Stream pipelines, but Western sources insist Moscow was behind the stunt that led to huge gas leaks in the Baltic.

Sanctions are not enough for the West, they have moved on to sabotage… staging explosions on international Nord Stream gas pipelines that run along the bottom of the Baltic Sea,’ Putin said in a televised speech at a ceremony in the Kremlin last week.

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