Portsmouth-based HMS Diamond and a Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton were dispatched to follow the underwater reconnaissance ship Yantar on Wednesday after it approached the UK coast.
The Russian vessel is a specialist reconnaissance ship, which carries two unmanned submersibles vehicles that can descend to the sea bed and send back images, as well as collecting items from the ocean floor.
A Navy spokesman said: “HMS Diamond met up with Yantar and will continue to monitor the vessel's movements and activities as it continues north.
“HMS Diamond left Portsmouth in thick fog on Wednesday evening in readiness to meet the Russian vessel, taking over from a French navy ship which had monitored her progress through the Bay of Biscay.”
Commander Ben Keith, commanding officer of the Type 45 destroyer, said: “HMS Diamond is proud to be doing her part to protect the UK area of interest by monitoring the Russian vessel Yantar on her transit.
“This is routine business for the Royal Navy and my ship's company are well trained and ready at short notice to deploy for such tasking.”
Instances of Russian naval vessels entering British waters have risen sharply in recent years as tensions between Russia and the West intensify.
Figures released last month revealed the Royal Navy was scrambled in response to Russian ships on 33 occasions in 2017, compared to just once in 2010.
British forces have been called to respond to Russian military activity near the UK more than 160 times in the past seven years.
Much of the increased activity is thought to be linked to Moscow’s involvement in the conflict in Syria, with Russian naval vessels travelling through the Channel en route to the Mediterranean.
“We will not hesitate in defending our waters or tolerate any form of aggression,” said defence secretary Gavin Williamson, commenting on the most recent incident.
“Britain will never be intimidated when it comes to protecting our country, our people, and our national interests.”
Additional reporting by PA
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