Nuclear submarine HMS Astute has arrived in Gibraltar for a routine stopover in the territory.
— Moses Anahory (@MAnahory) December 2, 2018
The submarine has been busy over the last few weeks. Last month, Type 23 Frigate HMS St Albans and HMS Astute faced off against each other off the Scottish coast.
“To be the best at what we do, it is essential that we train both against and alongside the very best,” Commander John Cromie, Commanding Officer of HMS St Albans, said in a news release.
The Royal Navy say that this latest training exercise took place in a Scottish loch and was a chance to sharpen and refine procedures necessary to coordinate activity when dealing with a potential submarine threat.
According to a Royal Navy news release:
“Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans and hunter-killer sub HMS Astute have been operating alongside each other, honing their Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) skills. But it was also an opportunity for them to go up against each other, testing their ability to deal with the threat one another brings to the battlefield.”
The arrival of HMS Astute is noteworthy for the sole reason that the vessel does not appear to have been harassed by Spanish vessels.
Just last month, a Royal Navy vessel fired a warning flare after Spanish Guardia Civil vessel got too close to nuclear submarine HMS Talent. It is understood that HMS Talent was departing Gibraltar after having her Tomahawk missile stores replenished.
This is becoming increasingly common. Earlier in the month, the USS Newport News, a Los Angeles class submarine, was harassed as she visited Gibraltar. Local media reported at the time 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:
“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 carries 154 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.