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Cameron Considered SBS Raid Against Russian Ship

21.06.2012

David Cameron considered ordering a special forces raid against a Russian cargo ship suspected of carrying arms to Syria, it has emerged.

At the end of last week, the MV Alaed, suspected of carrying an arms shipment that included Russian-built helicopter gunships to be delivered to the Syrian regime, was heading south through North Sea after leaving port in Leningrad, on a course that would take it through the English Channel. Under pressure from the Americans to halt the shipment, the Prime Minister reportedly considered authorizing a special forces operation to seize the vessel.

Any such operation would have most likely employed the Special Boat Service (SBS) to board and secure the vessel. Armed commandos seizing a Russian-flagged vessel would no doubt have strained relations between the UK and Russia. In the end, the vessel was forced to revert its course due to its maritime insurance being withdrawn by its insurer, probably as the result of UK government pressure.

The last publicly known time British special forces stormed a ship off the nation's coast was in December 2001. In that instance, a combined SBS/SAS force intercepted the MV Nisha, a ship bound for a London dock and suspected of carrying terrorist materials. Before the vessel reached British waters, a full-on military operation, including a Royal Navy Frigate and SBS/SAS boarding teams delivered by helicopter and inflatable boats was launched. No terrorists or terrorist materials were found on the ship.

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