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Gibraltar blasts Spain over incident and calls for upgrade or Royal Navy engagement rules

Monday, July 29th 2013 - 05:57 UTC
Full article 39 comments
Picardo said the incident had demonstrated the value of the larger vessels purchased for Royal Gibraltar Police Picardo said the incident had demonstrated the value of the larger vessels purchased for Royal Gibraltar Police
Royal Gibraltar Police new vessel Royal Gibraltar Police new vessel

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo Governor Sir Adrian Johns said Spain had no right to interfere with activities in British Gibraltar territorial waters and called for an upgrade of Royal Navy engagement rules.

The statements follow last Thursday’s incident when Guardia Civil and Spanish fishing vessels tried to interrupt the dumping of concrete blocks in Gibraltar waters to build an artificial reef.

Such an artificial reef should definitively put an end to Spanish vessels incursions into Gibraltar waters, a motive of constant disputes in recent times between Gibraltar and London, with Madrid.

“The waters off the runway are as much a part of Gibraltar as is Main Street,’ Mr Picardo said, adding “I emphasise again that a fully licensed Government contractor cannot be prevented from going about its perfectly legal work in our sovereign waters”.

The message was echoed by the Governor, Sir Adrian Johns.

“The fact is that the tug and barge concerned have been contracted by HM Government of Gibraltar to carry out a perfectly legal and peaceful operation inside British sovereign waters in support of marine conservation,” Sir Adrian said.

The Governor noted that this operation was “…completely within the constitutional responsibility and competence of HM Government of Gibraltar and no-one else’s.”

“Any issues arising out of this should be handled through the normal diplomatic channels,” he added. “It is completely unacceptable to pursue the matter in any other way either on the waters or elsewhere.”

Chief Minister Picardo also praised “the excellent job” carried out by police and navy crews but once again called on the British Government to strengthen its naval presence and its rules of engagement.

He said the incident had demonstrated the value of the larger vessels the Gibraltar Government had purchased for the Royal Gibraltar Police.

“Whilst I would like to see similar upgrades to the Royal Navy’s assets here on the Rock, it would also be useful for the Navy to review its rules of engagement,” he said.

“No-one likes to see the Navy ignored and disrespected by foreign state vessels as has been the case on so many occasions. It does nothing for the international reputation of the Navy or of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces generally”, said Picardo.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • ChrisR

    I just love this guy!

    Next time he is in the UK I hope Camoron takes the time to get a few lessons on handling unruly children: the Spanish 'government' for a start.

    Jul 29th, 2013 - 01:17 pm 0
  • LEPRecon

    Personally I think the Police in Gibraltar should put 50 cal. weapons on their patrol boats.

    A few warning shots should sent the Spaniards packing, and if they won't be warned off, then they should be boarded, the crews arrested for acts of piracy, and the vessels impounded.

    Each member of the crews should be fined, and the Captain's fined extra per member of the crew. The vessels to be released after the fine is paid by the Spanish government: a few hundred thousand Euro's per vessel.

    If they won't pay up, then the vessels should be auctioned to the highest bidder.

    Perhaps that would teach the Spanish not to interfere in someone else's territory and business.

    Jul 29th, 2013 - 02:03 pm 0
  • Conqueror

    It is difficult to see what the Royal Navy could do. Its largest class of patrol vessel is the Archer class. Whilst these are more than twice the size of the Scimitar class boats assigned to the Gibraltar Squadron (54 tonnes compared to 24 tonnes), they are mostly unarmed. Although they could be fitted with general purpose machine guns and a cannon. Next step up is a River class offshore patrol vessel and then a frigate. The problem is that the bigger the vessel the longer it takes to get underway. IMHO part of the answer is to send a flight of the Army Air Corps' Apache attack helicopters and another of Eurocopter Squirrels. Being much lighter, the Squirrel is better suited to patrolling. Once something is seen requiring action, a couple of Apaches can join the “action”. Although Spain has the Eurocopter Tiger, it doesn't match the Apache. Then there's the necessity for a ground component. Some Rapier missile batteries for air defence, obviously. But then, for direct action, a couple of Trojan armoured engineering vehicles to smash through the border posts. Possibly half a dozen Warrior AFVs for support. Of course, the Warriors could also fire on targets at sea, out to 4,400 yards. I reckon the Spanish would have a fit just watching the equipment being unloaded. There's a very nice spot at the northern end of Winston Churchill Avenue for the Trojans and Warriors to park. It must be noted that this would be a measured response. So far during 2013, Spanish state vessels have made over 170 incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. There have been instances of the Guardia Civil attempting to “arrest” Gibraltar vessels and a recent incident where a GC individual fired a weapon at a Gibraltar citizen. Such things cannot be tolerated. Spain must be taught that it cannot breach the law with impunity. In fact, since thousands of Spaniards work in Gibraltar, let's close the border from the Gibraltar side!

    Jul 29th, 2013 - 02:40 pm 0
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