Spanish warship with its guns manned tries to order British boats out of Gibraltar’s waters before being confronted by the Royal Navy in sabre-rattling provocation by Madrid
- Spanish Tornado P44 warship was pictured with its guns manned off Gibraltar
- Crew heard ordering anchored commercial vessels to ‘leave Spanish waters’
- Royal Navy boats were then deployed in response to the incident yesterday
- Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar branded the incident ‘a foolish game’
A Spanish warship with its guns manned tried to order commercial vessels to leave Gibraltars British waters on Sunday, it has emerged.
The warship’s crew can be heard in an audio recording of a radio exchange 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’.
Boats which were ordered to leave remained at the port during the incident, which was branded ‘foolish’ by a spokesman for Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar.
It comes weeks after Britain’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson suggested in a meeting with top brass, that UK forces should pelt Spanish war ships with paintballs in a bid to humiliate them.
A Spanish warship with its guns primed for action (highlighted in red) tried to order commercial vessels to leave Gibraltars British waters in a ‘foolish’ game on Sunday, it has emerged
The warship’s crew can be heard in an audio recording of a radio exchange telling vessels anchored at the Rock to ‘leave Spanish territorial waters’
It comes weeks after Britain’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured taking part in winter military exercises in Norway) suggested in a meeting with top brass, that UK forces should pelt Spanish war ships with paintballs in a bid to humiliate them
He made the suggestion off the back of a huge upsurge in Spanish vessels entering British waters off the Rock.
The illegal incursions by Spanish vessels stands at two a day now, from 541 in 2017, it shot up to a total of 816 in 2018.
A source told The Sun that the 42-year-old’s suggestion left Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter ‘rolling his eyes’ in front of Williamson.
After the latest incident, a Gibraltar government spokesman said: ‘There is only nuisance value to these foolish games being played by those who don’t accept unimpeachable British sovereignty over the waters around Gibraltar as recognised by the whole world in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.’
‘It seems there are still some in the Spanish navy who think they can flout international law.
‘This probably accounts for the state of extremism of some parts of the Spanish political spectrum these days.’
The ship was accused by the government of trying to take ‘executive action’ against the commercial boats, which were anchored on the eastern side of the Rock.
Commercial boats which were told to move were ordered to remain by the Gibraltar Port Authority.
The Spanish Navy warship Tornado P44 ordered commercial ships to leave an anchorage off the east side of Gibraltar on Sunday evening, attempting to exercise jurisdiction within British Gibraltar territorial waters
A crew member is heard in the recording asking the Spanish ship ‘to verify you are referring to our ship’ because they are anchored in Gibraltar.
‘We are not adrift, we are at anchor now,’ he says, before being told again to leave Spanish waters.
A statement released by the Gibraltar government said: ‘The Royal Navy deployed a launch and a rigid-hulled inflatable boat to the scene.
‘After being challenged by the Royal Navy, the Spanish warship sailed slowly along the Gibraltar coast with its weapons uncovered and manned.’
The Gibraltar government ‘is verifying every aspect of the incident in order to ensure that appropriate action is taking as soon as possible’, it said.