In his first major television interview, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones told Sky News that a new Joint Area of Operations (JAO) will be created for the North Atlantic.
It will mean the region becomes a priority for the UK government allowing Royal Navy ships and RAF aircraft to be deployed to the region much more regularly.
Admiral Jones said it was in response to a growing Russian threat.
Russian warships sail through English Channel shadowed by Royal Navy
This is a resurgence that has come very quickly.
It is an intensifying resurgence of capability and scale that we didn’t necessarily see coming maybe 10 years ago. We have had to respond to that – it is also very modern, it is very capable.
The signature of their vessels, their deploy-ability, their capability is very impressive. They’ve clearly been investing in the research and development to be able to do this.
The announcement comes weeks after the United States said it would re-establish its Second Fleet in the Atlantic, also as a response to Russia.
One of its tasks will be to protect the vital undersea lines.
UK’s undersea cables at risk of ‘potentially catastrophic’ attack by Russians
An estimated 97% of global communications are transmitted by fibre-optic cables that run thousands of metres below the sea, right around the world. They carry an estimated $10trn (£7.5trn) in daily financial transactions.
We are aware Russians have the capability to detect and work on those cables and of course they are doing this in very difficult environmental conditions, at very great depth, Admiral Jones said.
It’s not easy to work out exactly what’s going on. We have to assess what they’re doing. We have to track what they’re doing, we have to monitor what they’re doing both on and below the surface, and we seek to do that.
But the very fact they are going to where we know the cables are and using vessels that are coming away from the mother ship in order to get close to the cables is a sign that they are at the very least surveying them and potentially looking to do operations more than that. Therefore we have to be able to counter that.
The announcement comes days before NATO leaders meet for an important summit in Brussels where President Donald Trump is expected to put more pressure on alliance members to increase their spending.
News Source SkyNews