The Belgian navy frigate F930 Léopold I on Tuesday tracked a Russian attack sub through the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone at Zeebrugge (ZEE) and partly into Dutch waters, military sources told Belga.
The B-265 sub of the class Krasnodar was travelling on the surface, accompanied by the tug Sergey Balk, on a voyage from the Mediterranean to the Baltic at the end of a task force mission, according to the Russian official news agency Tass.
The Léopold I was taking part in a summer course organised by the national nautical academy, when it was called on by the Nato general staff at Den Helder in the north of the Netherlands to accompany the submarine.
Before that, the submarine had been tracked not only by the British and French navies, but also by amateur trackers working from online data using Open Source Intelligence (OSI).
The amateurs knew that the submarine had left Tarsus in Syria on July 1, before it was able to be picked up by by automated identification system AIS used by official channels.
Ship spotters later picked up the submarine as it passed Gibraltar on July 13.
The British Royal Navy later said the sub had been monitored all the way by two offshore patrol vessels (OPV), presumably meaning after they picked up the trace from the French navy had handed over monitoring as the submarine passed the island of Ushant in Brittany on Sunday July 19.
The Léopold I picked up the tracking from HMS Mersey, one of the Royal Navy OPVs, and followed it to Den Helder.
The captain of HMS Mersey, Lieutenant Commander Will Edwards-Bannon, said about the mission, “It has been impressive to see first-hand the seamless coordination between allied ships and aircraft from various nations involved in this operation.”
According to Tass, the Krasnodar was on its way to the Kronshtadt naval base on Kotin Island off Saint Petersburg for a scheduled service.