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A British warship has been deployed to the North Sea after concerns were raised that Russian saboteurs may already have planted mines on vital pipelines and cables.
Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset has been deployed to the area to “reassure” British citizens and those from partner nations working on the oil rigs.
A Royal Navy source said the area of concern was around oil rigs where there are pipes that deliver oil and gas to Britain and Scandinavia. The government has long been concerned about "suspicious Russian submarine activity" around vital undersea pipes and cables
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The Royal Navy is inspecting key pipes and cables as a precaution in case Russia has already planted remote mines on them.
Following the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines from Russia to Germany, there are fears of fresh attacks on Europe’s energy infrastructure.
There were also concerns about the undersea cables carrying internet data between Britain and Europe. If they were to be destroyed or compromised, it could cause chaos on the international money markets.
“There are a number of uncertainties associated with that area and the infrastructure,” a naval source told The Times.
“The likelihood of anything happening is remote but people are concerned and what better system to have than a ship that has good radar and good sonar?”
Somerset will soon be joined by HMS Enterprise, which uses advanced sonar and miniature drones to carry out "oceanographic and hydrographic surveys examining and mapping the seafloor".
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Defence Secretary Ben 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.”
Speaking on a visit to Poland, he told The Daily Telegraph: “Britain [is] deeply vulnerable because we are so dependent on our internet cables.”
He's stressed the urgency of deploying the navy's planned new Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship to protect vital infrastructure.
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An investigation of the site of the Nord Stream explosions is still under way near the Danish island of Bornholm. Russian sources have so far denied responsibility for the destruction of the pipelines.
A government source told the Daily Mail: “Everyone is watching the Danish investigation very closely. Obviously there is the question of attribution – will they find the evidence to formally point the finger at Russia?
“But there is also the question of how it was done. Was it a direct attack? Or were mines pre-placed some time in the past and detonated remotely?
“If it is the latter then it raises questions about where else mines might have been placed”.
They added: "We know there has been suspicious Russian submarine activity around our undersea infrastructure for years".
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