You have to be pretty gutsy to risk rubbing Russian President Vladimr Putin up the wrong way. Three British men from Kent risked exactly that.
Russian aircraft carrier ship
Peter the Great
were among the ships witnessed by maritime researcher and photographer Nigel Scutt and his friends Chris Webb and Thomas Packham.
The ships, spotted by the men just off Kent’s coastline, were reportedly on their way to Syrian's divided city Aleppo, and were monitored by Royal Navy vessels on their journey.
Scutt says he was trying to track the flotilla for days, and had been worried it had passed during the night. But on Friday, at about 10:20am, the ships passed the Dover Strait and Scutt captured the view on his camera.
We went out to report and film the ships with a news team. I approached it purely from a naval point of view because shipping research and photography is my profession. However, the awe-inspiring sight inevitably led one to consider just what it signified.
At that point the mood was rather more sombre on our boat. There was nothing frightening; they studied us and we studied them. We had tracked them as best we could for five days and worked out their approximate position. We got lucky, too!
Scutt says there was a risk the boat would "go dark" and he wouldn't be able to track it:
As naval vessels, they switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) systems and go “dark”, therefore they fail to show up on websites and services offering an AIS service, such as MarineTraffic. It’s a process of elimination after that.