Nuclear submarine HMS Talent has arrived in Gibraltar.

The vessel earlier had her Tomahawk missile stores replenished in the territory.

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 carriers 154 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

33 COMMENTS

    • Still 3 in service. They are getting rather old, even if they haven’t had to work as hard as anticipated when they were designed.

      • I’d argue that point. When designed and built, they were part of a much bigger fleet focused in the North Atlantic. They ended up forming the bulk of an overstretched global force with their successors greatly delayed. I’d wager their individual workload and mileage is higher than it was during the Cold War

    • I think once the next couple of Astute are ready we will see all the Ts out of service no matter the condition they are in, maybe one before the next Astute is ready won’t be a huge surprise, they are trying to save money everywhere in the MOD. If we Just increase the defence budget to 3% like it should be then we might not have to shrink our forces capability and size.. 3% on defence still sounds a small number or is it just me?

      • 3% is a small number, and would be great. But first the MOD like all of our government bodies need to start becoming more efficient and stop wasting money.

    • If I remember my Accident Monitoring Course steel that is bombarded with neutrons becomes brittle overtime. If the sub has been running with a high reactor load the neutron emissions are high. If a T boat has been doing a lot of work such as covering other subs down for maintenance etc the life of the steel will be affected and cracks may form in the reactor vessel or hull.
      That will limit any LIFEX.

      • just back from my usual weeks break to gib, which i do every year, sadly the people and the rocks economy is suffering, not just from BREXIT uncertainties, but more from the loss of money coming in from the navy ships visits, there aren’t any!thats why so many of the sailors old haunts have gone(pubs).it echoes what happened to malta after britain pulled out

  1. Given the increased likelihood of conflict with Russia and/or China, would it be sensible to mothball these boats after they are decommissioned?

    • The USN is looking at keeping up to 5 improved LA class SSN 688s past their original decomm date to keep sub force numbers up. Some are in pretty good condition and they could keep more but there are only 5 spare reactor cores for them.

      Wonder if there are any T boat spares?…

      Cheers!

      • Not for the old PWR1 as far as I’m aware, all of the Trafalgars have had their last refuelling. Even if there were though, I’m sure you’ve heard about the increasing list of issues the subs are accrued after such long service lives. Keeping them in service would be…expensive.

  2. Couldn’t the T31 design be modified to a corvette armed future OPV with ASW capabilities and room for addition of bolt on ASM or AAW launchers to be able to contribute to fleet combat operation in the event of war? The T31 seems like a very good design to start with for a new OPV class to would actually have some teeth…

    Cheers!

    • The type 31 is a frigate not a corvette and will be more capable as so, I just hope they build 8 type 31s minimum after all the government did say reducing the type 26 numbers would allow more hull numbers of 31s.. And we should upgrade the new OPVs maybe add a sub hunting capabilty to further increase the RN Hulls that can and the P-8s could work with them along with ASW Merlins. Even the cheapest options that https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/improving-the-capability-of-a-future-opv-squadron-part-2/ points out totally makes sense…. And actually enhances the RN…

      • Agree v much. In a shooting war, what good would the OPVs be unless they were up-armed to corvettes? Otherwise they’d just be cannon fodder, easily sunk by enemy forces with virtually no defences.

        I see that Spain never gave any of the waters around Gibraltar up to Britain when Gibraltar was ceded, so that explains their interference in what we claim as our waters-If I understand it correctly. But buzzing USN ships is strange indeed, unless they’re still sore about the Spanish-American war over 100 years ago.

      • Hi Cam,

        Using the basic T31 design and modifying it to meet the OPV requirements and reducing its weapons fit to a corvette’s would be an economical means of building new class OPVs since the line would already be hot building the frigate version. As has been noted many times here “air is free, steel is cheap” and the extra space could be used for multi purpose bays and fittings with plug and play capabilities equipment wise – ASW, ASM, AAW etc. Especially if a smaller design such as the Leander wins the T31 comp… The ship could then be used as dedicated screening and sentry vessels around the home isles and in GIUK Gap in case of war.

        Cheers!

    • With the cost of equipment this is the only realistic way I see to expand the RN ships wise.

      High end and more numbers of lower end ships still capable of contributing. Other nations arm their smaller vessels to the teeth so why not us?

      People might not like it but I think this is the reality until HMG attitudes change.

  3. Could they not accidentally on purpose sink a load of Spanish ships eg their entire flipping fleet. Then Spain might actually stop trying to piss off an ally and friend. They might also realise then, rather belatedly, that the UK is not to be messed with.
    Or just keep letting them enter Gibraltar waters playing their crappy national anthem. I read somewhere that the type 45s radar output is so strong at close range a type 45, can fry all the electronics in a neighbouring ship. Some close passes might be needed alongside that nakered old corvette the Spanish were messing about with

    • That “knackered old corvette”, if still fully armed, could match the gun/missile firepower of any of our warships. At close quarters her OTO-76mm’s rapid fire could outshoot by volume our slow shooting 4.5″. 40mm Bofors pack a punch too. Harpoon armed too. Spain could quickly deploy strike aircraft, helicopters, warships etc; so gunboat diplomacy would be stupid beyond stupid, besides being blatantly illegal.
      As far as I’m aware Spain never gave up any waters around Gibraltar to Britain, which is one reason they routinely “tresspass” on our sensibilities.
      We can’t expect the respect we once deserved if we run our military power down to current levels. Spin deters no nation, even if it gives our people a false sense of security.

  4. It’s uesful for the Spanish government to play the Gibraltar card and I don’t doubt many if the incursions are as a result of string personal feelings of those in the area. When push came to shove the Spanish government came to a very quick and sensible deal with the UK over Gibraltar while the Irish have forced our hand over NI.

    If you start making a bigger deal over GIb then it will become a political issue in Spain which could ultimately lead to the loss of the territory.

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