Tense showdown off Gibraltar as Royal Navy vessels scramble to stop Spanish Customs boarding a speed boat in ‘unlawful incursion’ in British waters
- A Spanish Customs vessel stopped a private boat near Europa Point on Monday
- Gibraltar HM Customs were forced to intervene and release the boat at 4pm
- A Royal Navy speedboat escorted the Spanish vessel out of British waters
Royal Navy vessels scrambled to stop Spanish customs officials boarding a speedboat in an ‘unlawful incursion’ in British waters off of Gibraltar on Monday.
A Royal Navy speed boat was sent to escort the Spanish vessel out of British waters near Europa Point at around 4pm.
Footage shows a Spanish Customs (Auduanas) Fenix III stop the speed boat while a Spanish helicopter watches from above.
The Royal Navy, HM Customs and Gibraltar Defence Police all intervened to stop the serious incursion in British waters.
A Royal Navy speedboat escorts a Spanish Customs Auduanas boat out of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters after it stopped a private boat and officials tried to board
The Auduanas Fenix III stops the speed boat manned by four people near Europa Point at around 4pm on Monday
In the video, the Spanish Auduanas Fenix III stops the speed boat before a Gibraltar HM Customs boat comes over to release the private boat.
The private boat, with four people on board, speeds away towards the Bay of Gibraltar.
A Royal Navy speedboat escorts the Auduanas boat as it heads east to leave British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
The Gibraltar Defence Police joins the chase, followed by a P273 HMS Pursuer.
The private boat heads east towards the Bay of Gibraltar after it is freed by a Gibraltar HM Customs vessel
The Gibraltar Defence Police follows and assists the Royal Navy speedboat as it escorts the Spanish boat
An HMS Pursuer also joins to assist in the escort. It is not yet clear why the private boat was registered in Gibraltar or why it was approached by the Spanish vessel
It is not yet clear why the private boat was registered in Gibraltar or why it was approached by the Spanish vessel, officials said.
A spokesperson for the Gibraltar governor’s residence the Convent told the Gibraltar Chronicle: ‘The Government is looking carefully at the data being provided in respect of this incident.
‘At first blush, it appears to be another entirely unacceptable incursion that must be strenuously protested.’
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been approached for comment.
The Spanish Navy patrol vessel Rayo P-42 sailed into British waters off the coast of Gibraltar in June, as Royal Navy minehunters led a training exercise
Government officials say the incursion did not interfere with the training exercise between two minehunters and ships from Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron
It comes after it was revealed earlier this year there were nearly 4,000 Spanish incursions on British waters off Gibraltar over the last decade.
A Spanish warship was escorted from Gibraltan waters after it entered during a Royal Navy training exercise on June 18.
Minehunting ships HMS Chiddingfold and HMS Penzance were on the water near Europa Point, Gibraltar’s southern-most point, training three Royal Navy Gibraltar squadron ships.
It is understood Spanish Navy patrol vessel Rayo P-42 sailed into the British territory’s waters, but did not interfere with the training exercise.
The Spanish Patrol Vessel P43 Relámpago incurred into British Territorial waters this afternoon
The P43 Relámpago patrol vessel is a Meteoro Class offshore patrol vessel and is 308 feet long
After the exercise was complete, the warship was escorted from Gibraltan waters. It was thought to be the 18th incursion into the British territory this year at the time.
Earlier on May 22, the Royal Navy was forced to escort a Spanish Patrol Vessel P43 Relámpago from waters by the East Side of the Rock.
The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron patrol boat escorted the ship for more than an hour until it exited British waters.
On May 6, the Spanish vessel Infanta Cristina entered Gibraltar’s territory and Britain’s patrol boat HMS Sabre stopped the incursion.
In February last year a Spanish warship with its guns manned tried to order commercial vessels to leave British waters.
The warship’s crew could be heard in an audio recording telling vessels anchored at the Rock to ‘leave Spanish territorial waters’.
Royal Navy boats were deployed and confronted the ship, which then sailed along the Gibraltar coast ‘with its weapons uncovered and manned’.
In 2017 there 541 incursions into waters off Gibraltar, that figure shot up to 816 in 2018.
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