According to Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, 56, the new chief of the defence staff, Russian underwater activity has seen a “phenomenal increase” over the last two decades. Sir Radakin told The Times: “There’s been a phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity over the last 20 years.”
However, he went on to say the issue was “more than about submarines”, explaining Russia could exploit a major weakness which could cripple even the most advanced militaries.
He explained Russia could “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”.
He added: “That is where predominantly all the world’s information and traffic travels.
“Russia has grown the capability to put at threat those undersea cables and potentially exploit those undersea cables.”
When asked whether destroying the cables would be considered an act of war, he said: “Potentially, yes.”
Sir Radakin, who recently took the job as head of Britain’s armed forces, succeeding General Sir Nicholas Carter and becoming the first head of the navy to be given the job in 20 years.
The underwater threat was made apparent more recently after a Royal Navy warship hit a submerged “hunter-killer” submarine in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday.
Hitting the sonar line that towed behind the HMS Northumberland, the Russian vessel reportedly forced the British ship to abort its mission and return to port for repairs.
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“Ship and submarine detection is not an exact science.
“It could have been a close pass gone wrong.”
A Navy source said they believed it was a “million-to-one chance event”.
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