British warship patrols North Sea oil fields after sabotage warning

Metro graphic MAP Britain sends warships to North Sea to protect undersea oil and gas pipelines and internet cables Image:

European governments worry about infrastructure safety after Nord Stream explosions (Image: Metro Graphics)

A Royal Navy frigate patrols the North Sea amid warnings of “sabotage” of Europe’s energy infrastructure.

The Department of Defense confirmed earlier this week that a ship had been dispatched to “pacify” workers in the gas industry.

A mysterious explosion that ruptured two natural gas pipelines has put the safety issue around critical equipment in the spotlight.

Huge amounts of methane gas have leaked into the atmosphere after large quantities of explosives were used to blow up pipes connected to Nord Stream 1 and 2.

The UK has not definitively blamed any country for the incident, but Kremlin involvement is widely suspected and the government has condemned a “blatant attack on civilian infrastructure”.

HMS Somerset, a Type 23 frigate, is reportedly working with Norwegian Navy ships to patrol the area.

An unnamed Navy source told the Times they are particularly interested in protecting oil platforms in the North Sea that transport oil and gas to the UK and Scandinavia.

Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Navy of HMS Westminster observing the cruiser Marshal Ustinov. Three Royal Navy Type 23 frigates - HMS Westminster, HMS Lancaster and HMS Richmond - have been shadowing a Russian Navy task force in waters near the UK. The ships were in pursuit of the Slava-class cruiser Marshal Ustinov, sister ship to the ill-fated Moskva, which sank in the Black Sea in April. They have also been keeping tabs on the Udaloy-class destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov and the tanker Vyazma as the three ships have been sailing home from the eastern Mediterranean since February after supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story DEFENSE Russia. Photo credit should read: Royal Navy/MOD/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

A Type 23 frigate has been deployed around power infrastructure in the North Sea (Image: PA)

They said: “There are a number of uncertainties surrounding this area and the infrastructure.

“The chance of anything happening is slim, but people are concerned and what better system than a ship with good radar and sonar?”

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called on the countries to strengthen the protection of critical locations by conducting stress tests and using satellite monitoring.

She said: “The acts of sabotage against Nord Stream pipelines have shown how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is.

“It is in the interest of all Europeans to better protect this critical infrastructure.”

Ben Wallace said the UK will acquire two specialist vessels to protect subsea cables and pipes this week.

According to the Secretary of Defense, a “multipurpose survey ship for naval warfare” should be operational by the end of next year.

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Justin Scacco

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