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MoD: Royal Navy frigate is in North Sea to protect underwater cables

Royal Navy warships are in the North Sea to protect cables (Royal Navy/MoD/PA)
Royal Navy warships are in the North Sea to protect cables (Royal Navy/MoD/PA)

A Royal Navy frigate is in the North Sea, the Ministry of Defence has said, amid efforts to protect underwater infrastructure following attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace joined a crisis meeting of northern European nations on Monday to discuss co-ordinating security responses, including increased maritime presence.

“The group condemned the blatant attacks against civilian infrastructure,” the MoD said on Twitter.

“A Royal Navy frigate is in the North Sea, working with the Norwegian Navy to reassure those working near the gas pipelines.”

Russia was accused of attacking the Nord Stream undersea gas pipelines, which led to huge methane leaks.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has said a series of explosions which caused major damage to the pipelines were “clearly an act of sabotage”.

Ahead of his meeting with counterparts in the joint expeditionary force, Mr Wallace warned that Russia makes “no secret” of its ability to target underwater infrastructure.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference on Sunday, the Defence Secretary said “the Nordic states and ourselves are deeply vulnerable to people doing things on our cables and our pipelines”.

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace at the Conservative Party annual conference (Jacob King/PA)

The “mysterious” damage inflicted to the Nord Stream pipelines should be a reminder of how “fragile” the UK economy and infrastructure are in the face of “hybrid attacks,” Mr Wallace said.

He announced that the Government will acquire “two specialist ships” with the capability to patrol and protect the network from Russia as Britain’s “internet and energy are highly reliant on pipelines and cables”.

He said: “The first multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare will be purchased by the end of this year, fitted out here in the UK and then operational before the end of next year.

“The second ship will be built in the UK and we will plan to make sure it covers all our vulnerabilities.”

During the meeting of the joint expeditionary force – comprising the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden – ministers discussed increasing shared intelligence assessments and cooperation to secure critical infrastructure, according to the MoD.

Mr Wallace said: “In this period of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective resolve to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to mutual security.”