The USS Newport News, a Los Angeles class submarine, visited Gibraltar this week.

Local media has reported that eyewitnesses said a Spanish customs boat was intercepted by a Gibraltar Defence Police vessel after it came too close to the US submarine. The report states:

“Officials at the MoD and The Convent were looking into the incident last night to establish the sequence of events and assess what happened and where.

If classed as an incursion, the incident will almost certainly draw a diplomatic protest, as happens as a matter of routine with all incursions by Spanish state vessels.”

This isn;t an isolated incident, late last year the Royal Navy were forced to chase off a Spanish vessel as it cut across the path of a visiting US Naval vessel in Gibraltar, the USNS Carson City.

The USNS Carson City is a Spearhead class expeditionary fast transport, currently in service with the Military Sealift Command. This American naval vessel was the result of an effort to design a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intratheatre transport of medium-sized cargo payloads.

In addition, last May a Spanish patrol boat reportedly tried to “hassle” an American nuclear submarine attempting to dock at Gibraltar.

According to multiple sources, flares were fired across the bow of the Spanish Guardia Civil vessel Rio Cedena in mid-April as it twice attempted to sail across the front of the American ballistic missile submarine USS Florida.

The USS Florida, a 20,000 ton Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, was commissioned in 1983 with the hull designation of SSBN-728; with her conversion to a cruise missile submarine, she was re-designated SSGN-728. She carriers 154 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

I wonder which vessel is next?

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David steeper

I think someone should advise our Spanish ‘friends’ to back off from harassing US ships. They are a lot less spineless than we are !


They are playing with fire. If the captain of a US nuclear sub seriously thinks they are in danger then they will not hesitate to sink whatever the threat may be…

Jamon Pulpo

Maybe you should return Gibraltar to us and get out.


I wasn’t aware the Americans had taken Gibraltar.

David Taylor

Never seems to happen when a USN boat visits Rota.

David Taylor

I don’t think the Spanish will be happy until somebody is killed due to one of their stunts. I think the MoD should have looked beyond buying straight forward patrol craft for Gibraltar. Just being there antagonises Spain so anything we do really doesn’t matter. Spanish government ships transiting Gibraltarian waters will have to be escorted by something speedy. But it is those who blatantly trespass for longer periods; for example when they decide to carry out surveys. We need something robust to cajole and persuade. For example Damen offer the STAN TUG 1907 design which is ice rated; place… Read more »


Two words: Torpedo Nets. Steel cabled of a very difficult to cut nature stretched shallowly across access to UK waters with a monitored entry and exit point. After they’ve fouled their props a few times they might try something else


Unbelievably stupid Spanish attitude. A very firm message should be sent to the Spanish Government from all nations that use the sovereign British port of Gibralter, that no hampering of naval vessels will be tolerated. Some sort of physical barrier could avoid further interdictions by the Spanish, but that would raise the issue of Gibralter, beyond the current parameters, and I doubt the UK would entertain that?


Surely the USA should by now expressing their displeasure at the Spanish navy’s antics towards their vessels? Perhaps banning Spanish vessels from exercising with US forces? Etc


They’ll come armed with a strongly worded letter….


Apparentpy they will be more capable, faster, longer ranged and have bigger guns.


The Socialist government of Spain simply hasn’t a clue. 1) Accepted boat loads of economic migrants denied entry into Italy 2) Decides to offer sanctuary to anybody who can get there 3) Decides to remove barbed wire from border fence of enclaves in North Africa. 4) Now finds it is the destination of choice for thousands of migrants, including mass invasions of violent young men into African enclaves 5) Decides to shelve sales of laser guided bombs to Saudis Arabia, doesn’t think what the Saudis will do with the $2.2 billion sale of 5 small ships signed in April 2018.… Read more »


Yes, and North Korea calls itself Democratic Peoples Republic!


Let’s not forget there’s now a substantial force of fast patrol boats in Gibraltar, including two RN vessels, several police boats belonging to both the GDP and RGP, and two customs boats. However, these incidents do still continue. Maybe a diplomatic change is needed, to enforce stronger punishments to those who violate the sovereignty of Gibraltar’s waters – such as arrests or impounding vessels. A recent guest post on NavyLookout detailed a plan for retaining the four batch one Rivers for UK patrols, and basing the five batch twos in our overseas territories – with at least one being in… Read more »

Mr Bell

I think the Spanish will continue these antics until a much firmer response is given. Can we design a fast but armoured hulled ramming vessel that can just bulldoze into the Spanish vessels using non lethal force. Once some of their vessels hulls have been damaged they might stop. Or alternatively the US navy should pull out of Rota and redeploy their AEGIS destroyers providing BMD to Gibraltar. The USnavy perhaps need to fire a few live rounds across the Spanish vessels hulls to warn them off. Ditto all RN and Gibraltar basedpatrol boats. These are not the actions you… Read more »

Evan P

They would not stop, that would be a ridiculous escalation of the situation. That would simply give them an excuse to be more aggressive.