Or did they? We say no, they didn’t.
The nationalists STILL harp on about some Russian warships that sheltered in the outer Moray Firth to conduct repairs to the steering gear on one of their carriers. The nats claim that these ships were in our “Territorial Waters” (TW).
But were they? The answer to that is NO!!
This graphic shows the UK territorial waters around Scotland. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Territorial waters only extend out 12 miles. That’s all, 12 miles.
Between 12 miles, and 200 miles (or a neighbouring boundary agreed with another country), those waters are an “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ). This gives us exclusive rights to the economic benefits and the resources within that zone. It does not give us any legal right to exclude shipping, civilian or military, from passing through, or anchoring in that zone.
Under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (1982), right of innocent passage to all warships through territorial waters is allowed, provided it is not prejudicial to peace, good order or security of the coastal state.
This image shows a selection of sites that foreign ships can legally anchor. These sites are close to our shores, and close to some sensitive sites within Scotland. And it’s completely legal for them to be there.
As you can see, the Russian ships were well outside out TW. Where they anchored was perfectly legal and above board. Should we deny safe haven to foreign seafarers to allow them to conduct repairs? Of course not. We’re not at war with Russia.
The nationalists claim that a fishing vessel sent a text message, and that alerted the MOD to the presence of the Russian carrier group. This is actually complete rubbish. ALL major Russian surface ships are tracked by satellite, and listened to by ourselves, and other NATO countries. We know exactly where they are at all times. Russian Carrier Groups are frequently shadowed by NATO Hunter Killer Subs as well.
The nationalists constantly complain that a ship had to be sent from Portsmouth, as there’s no ship based in Scottish Waters. Why would there be? We have aircraft based all over the UK that can be in any area of our EEZ much faster than any ship can travel. In this case, aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth were only a few minutes flying time from the anchorage. RAF aircraft were indeed “buzzing” the Russian ships whilst they were at anchor.
Our “Fleet Ready Escort” (FRE), a destroyer, did indeed sail from Portsmouth to meet the Russian ships, a passage of 594 miles. Our FRE remained in the area until the repairs were completed. She then provided an escort to the Russian ships down the east coast, through the Channel into the Atlantic. She then returned to standby role in Portsmouth.
The nationalists claim we should have surface ships based in Faslane. The fact we already do is completely ignored by them. What if the FRE had been based at Faslane? It would have taken the same time to arrive at the anchorage as the vessel from Portsmouth. The passage from Faslane would have actually been 610 miles.
In an Independent Scotland what would have been sent? The MOD dispatched a destroyer. An iScotland would have sent a frigate, as it would have been our most powerful ship.
More nationalist myths well and truly busted.