The Royal Navy's flagship is ready to join efforts to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean after it was held back amid "discussions" with European Union partners.
The Ministry of Defence denied earlier in the day that HMS Bulwark and three Merlin helicopters had been delayed and described the discussions as "ongoing".
Previously, it had said the 19,000-tonne assault ship was due to set off on April 26.
An MoD spokeswoman said
HMS Bulwark and three Merlin helicopters are now ready to operate in the Mediterranean, working closely with the Italian Navy, and co-ordinated via Rome.
The 19,000-tonne amphibious ship will work in tandem with the surveillance helicopters to provide a wide-ranging search and rescue capability.
The Senior Service has congratulated the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their daughter in a rather unusual fashion.
Sailors standing on the flight decks of Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster and Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon spelt out the word "sister" in honour of the royal baby.
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RAF Typhoon jets remain ready for action this evening after two Russian long range bombers were spotted in airspace off the coast of Scotland earlier today.
This afternoon jets were scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth to escort Russian military planes away after they neared the edge of UK airspace, and according to reports tonight they continue to remain on alert.
ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reports:
International Affairs think tank Chatham House have said the appearance of Russian military ships in the English Channel, and jets near UK airspace, are a reminder from Russia that they are "not a fading power".
James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, said: "Russia is trying to show it has got full spectrum capability warfare.
"It is not a prelude to war but it is a reminder that Russia likes to remind us of - that it is a power to be reckoned with, not a fading power, which might be closer to the reality."
Russian military ships and fighter jets have been spotted nearing various areas of UK airspace and waters in recent months.
Here we take a look at some of Russia's known military movements over the last year:
- October 2014: RAF Typhoons intercept a Russian Bear bomber as it approaches UK airspace
- November 2014: A squadron of Russian warships are monitored by the Royal Navy as they move through the Strait of Dover after carrying out exercises in the North Sea
- January 2015: RAF Typhoons scrambled as Russian military jets fly near UK airspace
- February 17, 2015: HMS Argyll tracks a Russian frigate off the coast of France as it moves through the Channel
- February 19, 2015: RAF fighters scrambled as Russian Bear bombers are spotted off the Cornwall coast
- April 2015: HMS Argyll monitors three Russian ships including the Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk as they pass through the Channel and the MoD confirm jets have been scrambled as Russian military jets fly near UK airspace
RAF Typhoon jets were scrambled today after two Russian military planes were spotted flying near UK airspace.
An MoD spokesperson said: "The Russian planes were escorted by the RAF until they were out of the UK area of interest. At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into UK sovereign airspace.”
It is understood that the Russian aircraft intercepted were Bear H bombers.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that three Russian ships are being monitored by the Royal Navy after entering the English Channel this morning.
A Russian Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk, a tanker, and a support ship are said to be passing through the English Channel as they return to Russia from the Mediterranean.
The Ministry of Defence posted a message on Twitter stating British warship HMS Argyll had been deployed to monitor the movement of the ships:
In response to news reports, MOD can confirm 3 Russian ships being monitored by @royalnavy HMS Argyll through Channel. No exercises seen.1/2
Russian Udaloy class destroyer Severomorsk returning from Mediterranean with tanker and support ship. Due to leave Channel later. 2/2
Russian navy ships entered the English Channel today and will hold anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defence drills in the northern Atlantic, Interfax news agency reported.
The ships belong to the Russian Northern Fleet, the agency quoted Russia's Defence Ministry as saying.
It is not unusual to have Russian warships in the Channel. In November, Nato dismissed a Russian media report that a squadron of Russian warships had conducted military exercises there.
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