Belfast Lough plays host to NATO warships

Belfast Lough is playing host to a fleet of NATO warships. Credit: UTV

Belfast Lough is playing host to a fleet of NATO warships – with the state-of-the-art vessels dropping anchor in the city for the weekend.

They were part of a battlegroup monitoring the movements of Russian warships through UK waters on the way to Syria.

HMS Duncan sailed into Belfast Lough on Friday morning.

This is only the second time this Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer – which is affiliated with the city – has been in Northern Ireland.

She’s part of a fleet of four NATO warships berthed here this weekend.

They include Spanish, Portuguese and German frigates manned by more than 700 sailors from a variety of countries.

The ships were meant to dock in Belfast in mid-October but they were diverted to monitor the movement of a Russian aircraft carrier through the North Sea, English Channel and on to the Mediterranean.

The vessels followed Russian warships on their way to Syria.

The military moves by Russia are believed to be part of efforts to bolster the bombing campaign of Aleppo.

Now they're back in dock and in Northern Ireland and UTV was given the rare opportunity to get on board an operational warship.

The ships will not be open to the public for security reasons but the naval crews are looking forward to enjoying a weekend in Belfast.

The fleet leaves on Monday before continuing on routine NATO operations.