Thursday, December 13th 2012 - 22:43 UTC

Royal Navy shows the flag in Gibraltar waters; 197 Spanish unlawful incursions this year

A Royal Navy warship used a routine logistical visit to Gibraltar on Wednesday to patrol British waters around the Rock. The highly unusual move came a day after an incursion by a Spanish Navy vessel and against the background of diplomatic tension between the UK and Spain over the waters row.

HMS Sutherland and a Merlin helicopter make a routine maritime security patrol (Photo: MoD)

It was flagged up by the Ministry of Defence in Gibraltar, which issued a statement early in the morning saying HMS Sutherland was conducting “routine maritime security patrols” in British Gibraltar territorial waters.

The patrol was further bolstered by the presence in the air of the Type 23 frigate’s Merlin helicopter, which flew over the waters on the east side of the Rock and the bay.

The ship had been scheduled to call at Gibraltar for stores and fuel on its way home to Devonport after anti-piracy duties in the Indian Ocean. But before nipping into port, it was ordered to steam slowly in British waters and make its presence felt.

After its morning patrol, HMS Sutherland docked at the naval base to carry out its logistics operation before sailing from the Rock a few hours later.

On its way out, it took a slow course from the base to the northern end of the bay and then down the median line toward the Strait of Gibraltar.

Despite recent terse exchanges with Spain over Gibraltar waters, Britain is unlikely to bolster its permanent naval presence here. Any response to Spain’s efforts to exert control in Gibraltar waters will focus primarily on legal and political initiatives.

But Wednesday’s patrols by HMS Sutherland indicate that the UK will also maximise any scheduled visit by Royal Navy ships to stamp its mark out at sea.

Short-lived or otherwise, the presence of HMS Sutherland drew a welcome response on the social networks.

The visit by HMS Sutherland came as the British Government revealed that the number of incursions by Spanish state vessels into British Gibraltar territorial waters this year will top 200.

Andrew Robathan, Britain’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, told the House of Commons that there had already been 197 incursions between January 1 and November 30 this year. That compared to 67 “unlawful incursions” in 2010 and 23 in 2011, he said.

“One of the Ministry of Defence’s roles in Gibraltar is to help maintain the United Kingdom’s sovereignty over British Gibraltar territorial waters,” Mr Robathan said in response to a parliamentary question this week.

“In support of this, the Royal Navy challenges unlawful maritime incursions.” “These challenges are subsequently pursued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office through formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish Government”.

Meanwhile Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has said that the Gibraltar Government is set to try and persuade the British Government to claim the full twelve nautical miles of territorial sea around Gibraltar under the rules of 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS.

British Gibraltar Territorial Waters presently extend to just three miles, used by most countries until UNCLOS set a new, 12-mile standard. The revelation was made at the Direct Democracy program screened on GBC.

CM Picardo also confirmed that the final report commissioned by the Gibraltar Government in relations to fishing in Gibraltar waters is now on his desk and to be made public shortly

27 comments Feed

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1 Pirate Love (#) Dec 13th, 2012 - 11:06 pm Report abuse
and theres the response, still thinking about mixing it Spain?
2 Britworker (#) Dec 13th, 2012 - 11:29 pm Report abuse
Well Spain has a choice now, it can step things up further a notch or maybe think about taking a step back
3 Xect (#) Dec 13th, 2012 - 11:33 pm Report abuse
The Spanish are cowards and go home every time the Royal Navy turn up.

It's disappointing they act like this.

If they want a fight, then stick around when the Royal Navy are there and fight like men. We will see who gains supremacy.

But alas this is nothing more than posturing and trying to bully the people of Gibraltar.

Keep this up and you'll have a permanent Royal Navy presence like the Falkland Islands has.
4 Conor J (#) Dec 13th, 2012 - 11:42 pm Report abuse
Good on the RN, nice to see that Sutherland has received the new updated 4.5 inch gun as well.
5 toooldtodieyoung (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 07:48 am Report abuse
About that saying..............

“Talk softly and carry a big stick”.......

Are you going to listen now Spain??

Thank god for the Royal Navy.
6 reality check (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 07:57 am Report abuse
I believe a Type 45 is now on the way to Gib.
7 Shed-time (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 08:35 am Report abuse
The issue here, is if you're at your small friend's house and a poor immoral person starts jumping about on your friend's flower garden saying it is theirs, what do you do to the poor person?

A good idea would be to give them a slap. But given the poor immoral personal is probably mentally deranged, that's quite possibly what they want you to do.
8 briton (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 12:13 pm Report abuse
Apparently they only intrude when the royal navy is not there,

They have lookouts standing on the cliffs with binoculars looking for royal navy ships,

When spotted they shout,
The British are coming run run…lol.

9 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 01:40 pm Report abuse
close the the gate between spain and and mine the spanish coast.
10 Teaboy2 (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 02:38 pm Report abuse
@9 - Yeah that's right Muppet, close the gate so all the hard working Spanish people that cross the border to work in Gibraltar are unable to get to work, therefore unable to make a living and pay their bills, resulting in them losing their homes and them and their family's leaving on the streets. Closing the border would have more effect on Spain then it would have on Gibraltar, you idiot. Perhaps you should learn to Think before you post on here!

As for “Mine the Spanish Coast” - What so ships can no longer get to Spanish ports without risk of being blown up by Spanish mines. Lol you most be CFK's personal adviser on economic warfare and naval sieges - No wonder it keeps back firing on Argentina with you idiots like you at the helm!

Or were you talking about mining for resources? - Hmmm only resource to mine on the Spanish coast is sand and empty sun beds. Oh, but then there is always the Spanish ship wrecks to mine, which we are more than happy to add few more Spanish wrecks too, if they keep pushing their luck!
11 reality check (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 02:51 pm Report abuse
Political slight of hand, pisses me off, whenever things get bad, politicians come up with some nationalistic bullsit to distract people from what's really important in their lifes. All politicians, everywhere, they are all the same.

Romansgot it right, bread and circuses, bread and circuses, this is just a modern theme on that.
12 Conor J (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 04:01 pm Report abuse
Couldn't have said it better myself.
13 chillyp (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 04:22 pm Report abuse
The Spanish Navy has been trawling the waters off Barcelona turning back fishing boats in their own national waters flying the Catalan flag. And sending random squads of troops in and around Catalonia. And acting like Scottish devolution from the UK is this big Euro Crisis when nobody else thinks it is. This Gibraltar stuff is more of the same - trying to distract Spaniards from real problems the Spanish politicians are unwilling or unable to solve.
14 Conqueror (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 04:23 pm Report abuse
@10 It's worth noting that, in the Bay of Gibraltar where Spain constantly complains about Gibraltarian land reclamation, Spain is “reclaiming” more than Gibraltar. It's also worth noting that, in the Treaty of Utrecht that Spain likes quote to show that Gibraltar has no territorial waters, Spanish territorial waters aren't mentioned either. Royal Navy, please note. Live missile firings across the bay. The Spaniards will also kindly provide “targets”. Although they call them by ridiculous names like “jet skis”, “fishing boats”, “guardia civil vessels”, “customs vessels”, “survey vessels”. This will also provide entertainment for the people of Gibraltar. They might like to lay bets on how long it would take to blow a particular Spanish “target” to smithereens. Clear the bay!
15 ProRG_American (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 04:48 pm Report abuse
16 Conor J (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 05:00 pm Report abuse
And what has that got to do with the article in question?
17 Santa Fe (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 05:35 pm Report abuse
Fake Aussie... Close the border, and thousands of Spanish will loose there jobs, think it was closed up until 1982 by the fascist Spanish regime.

mine the straits, good idea apart from the Royal Navy possess some of the best mine hunting ships in the world. and suspect that the Spanish Navy couldn't afford any mines as they are a little cash strapped at the mo like your RG Navy, any news on your flagships release from the mighty power that is Ghana ..snigger
18 ProRG_American (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 05:48 pm Report abuse
19 Santa Fe (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 06:04 pm Report abuse
Yes fake US citizen... Our great M16 secret service fished this one out.. He is a traitor and has been locked away for a long time. Great news
20 briton (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 07:01 pm Report abuse
poor 18,
no chance , no hope , no future,just anti british ramblings.
21 ProRG_American (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 09:32 pm Report abuse
Just the tip of the Iceberg in my view.
22 ChrisR (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 09:41 pm Report abuse
21 ProRG_argie

In your opinion?

Would this be the same opinion that constantly puffs government gossip as fact: how many cars are AG building for Mexico as I write this. NONE? Surely not, has TMBOA misled you AGAIN?
23 ProRG_American (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 10:03 pm Report abuse
Face of Edward Devenney being added on Mount Rushmore.
24 Santa Fe (#) Dec 14th, 2012 - 10:43 pm Report abuse
Mount Rushmore is in the USA, man you have researched your fake character well. knowledge of the USA you have covered all bases. Well done troll
25 toooldtodieyoung (#) Dec 15th, 2012 - 12:56 am Report abuse
It actually might be worth their while having a couple of ships based a Gib perminently. Being the gateway to the med and backing onto the Alantic, I don't know why it's not a routine deployment

23 ProRG_American

Well, it's news isn't it............................
26 Furry-Fat-Feck (#) Dec 15th, 2012 - 01:40 am Report abuse
@25 toooldtodieyoung (#)
Dec 15th, 2012 - 12:56 am

That is the problem though bloke and one of the root causes of these unauthorised incursions. The British defence budget has been drawn down. The new assets are superb and are perfectly capable of changing the minds of their opponents so long as they are in striking range. Unfortunately there aren't enough of them to go around, they cannot be in two places at once.

The old saying goes that quantity has a quality all of it's own and it is very true in this scenario. A viable military force is intended to prevent conflict as much as it is to fight one. In fact, if they are called upon to fight then their primary function has failed.

I agree that we need a permanent naval presence in Gibraltar and that every unauthorised incursion needs to be met. However, the Spanish government knows that we do not have sufficient assets to achieve this and as a result the incursions will continue after the 'big guns' have left.

British government defence policy needs to revisit its strategy that all future conflicts will be carried out in concert with partners. We need to have a capability to 'go it alone' if needs be. We need more hulls even if they are not as capable as a T45.
27 briton (#) Dec 17th, 2012 - 08:16 pm Report abuse
And a naval base in antarctica,

just to keep an eye on pirate argies and usurpers .lol.

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