First pictures published of Russian ships off Irish coast

The Air Corps have published the first photographs of the Russian-registered ships spotted off the coast of Ireland over the past week.

The three ships – the Umka, the Bakhtemir and the Fortuna – caused alarm among defence officials when they were spotted engaging in unusual manoeuvres off the Co Galway coast in the vicinity of a new subsea communications cable.

It is understood that the vessels were equipped with technology capable of interfering with subsea cables.

The Defence Forces deployed ships and aircraft to keep track of the vessels, which later turned south and appeared to resume their originally charted journey to the port of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea on the west coast of Africa.

A Defence Forces statement on Sunday confirmed the vessels have now left Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).


It added: “As part of their Maritime, Defence and Security Operations (MDSO), the Irish Air Corps Maritime Patrol Aircraft have observed Russian commercial vessels in international waters off the island of Ireland.

The Defence Forces said the ships had now left Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (Irish Defence Forces/PA)

“These vessels have now left Ireland’s EEZ.

“The Irish Air Corps and the Irish Naval Service continue to monitor activity in Irish waters and to undertake Maritime Defence and Security Operations (MDSO) throughout Ireland’s maritime domain.”