Nuclear submarine HMS Astute has arrived in Gibraltar for a routine stopover in the territory.


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.

“HMS Astute provides that partner with whom we can polish our skills to the highest level.”

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.

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Levi Goldsteinberg

Shoot the bastard Spanish if they do it again I say


Sadly there is a bit of me hoping the Spanish do push it too far resulting in some damage to thier vessel requiring rescue by RN or the other visitor.


US would be the ones, I really cant see them taking too kindly to putting a nuclear sub in any danger at all.

Cam Hunter

I remember watching Hms Astute for the first time entering the water, it was an amazing moment and I thought Jesus she’s a beautiful British creation and a game changer for the Royal Navy, first sub without periscope ect, but we were lucky getting the seventh boat built. Why can’t we build submarines for foreign navy’s??, the Germans and french do it! We could build smaller conventional submarines like in the past! We had The Tyne and the Clyde and more building submarines why not again??

David E Flandry

The UK stopped building conventional submarines after the break-up of the USSR. Most navies want to buy a boat that is in service or about to be in service, like the T26. Meanwhile, France has put forth a concept for a 3400-ton boat with a complement as low of 15, that’s fifteen. The UK could use say 4 subs with a complement of 25, and displacement of 2000 tons. Great for guarding the NE Atlantic.


I think BMT have designed some small submarines aimed at exports. The UK did not invest in AIP which is why our diesel subs became obsolete so quickly.
Before AIP came along they still struggled for exports as they where also built to a higher spec for patrolling under the ice cap than the German and French subs making it difficult to compete on price.

Chris J

Spain is supposed to be an ally, what with the constant harrasment of ships entering Gib and now the news from a few weeks ago that they are refuelling Russian ships in Cueta, enough is enough. Either they sort their shit out or they should be kicked out of NATO asap. Not sure what they bring to the NATO party anyway. They and the other European nations have demonstrated in the brexit negotiations that they are not our friends. It’s time to stop pretending they are. Before I get trolled by the usual remaniacs I should point out that I… Read more »

John Clark

Chris, the Astute class are the real teeth of the RN, each boat capable of destroying most Navies with impunity. Regarding BREXIT, well, the remainers amongst our MP’s see a real opportunity to re- run the referendum, utterly insulting our democratic system and get their own way… Why don’t people understand, it’s really terribly simple…. The European Union has a clear journey to create a single European State, you only have to see were it’s come from and it’s very clear direction of travel. Within 10 years, the EU Countries remaining outside the Euro zone, will be forced to join,… Read more »


What’s so bad about an EU supper state? Worlds largest economy worlds largest super power etc.

John Clark

Well Martin, Hitler said much the same thing with his own brand of European Union.


Easy way for group thinkers on left and right to shoot down debate, call the other side nazis.

But seriously what’s not to like about an United EU if you get beyond small minded Nationalism. Except it’s history which is arguable fonominal what’s the point in the UK? Too big to be united too small to be realevnt.

David Bevan

EU “supper” state state sound lovely. Super state on the other hand sounds terrifying. The nation state is accountable to its people the trans-national superstate is accountable to only the elites who run it. Historically economic progress results from a mixture of states cooperating and competing. Making everything the same removes one of the 2 drivers of change. You’ll end up with stagnation and corruption where the interests of the people are sold out to the requirements of those who are running the institution. Think FIFA but more poorly run and even less democratic.

John Clark

Beautifully put David.


Would seem the solution to your problem is more rather than less EU integration, a democratic parliament and elected president.

The UK is an increasingly failed state unable to stay united. Time for something bigger and better.

David E Flandry

Messing around with a nuclear submarine close by is what informed people call “stupid”.

Dave Webb

Let’s not be too beastly about the Spanish provocation because they might put something in our omelette when we next go on holiday…..4

Cam Hunter

If we British stop going to Spain on holiday spains economy would dive! We pump in billions and the millions of British living and owning businesses in Spain is again worth billions to Spain!!… Spain has North African enclaves just like Gibraltar but you don’t see Britain invading there space now do you!! Every Spanish talking country is a shithole! Every English talking country are the best countrys on earth…FACT

andy reeves

astute? overpriced, overhyped, slow,leaking,rusting already, too slow to build, jinxed its the dimwits at the M.O.D who ordered 7 of these elephants in the room when they could have had up to 14 conventional boats. what is it they want gadgets or numbers? the navy seems to think they can have both.that’s why there are no bloody ships