HMS Artful, an Astute class nuclear submarine currently deployed with HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group, has called into Gibraltar despite Spanish protests.

The submarine appeared to be having some level of equipment fitting done.

Spain regularly protests the arrival of British nuclear submarines in the British territory however in 2017, 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, by the way, is a 20,000 ton Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine. She carries 154 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Recently HMS Kent and her Wildcat helicopter conducted a winching exercise with HMS Artful off the coast of Scotland as part of a training exercise before the vessels deployed as part of the Carrier Strige Group 21 deployment.

The helicopter belonged to 206 Flight, 815 Squadron.

HMS Kent and 206 Flight conduct a winching exercise with HMS Artful off the coast of Scotland.

The exercise utilised both aircraft and the submarine in order to carry out an essential stores transfer in the confined water ways of Scotland’s coastline.

HMS Artful is the third of the seven Astute-class submarines to be built for the Royal Navy. She began her naval career in 2015, and was commissioned in 2016. The Astute class are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel.

The class have provision for up-to 38 weapons in six 21-inch torpedo tubes. The submarines are capable of using Tomahawk Block IV land-attack missiles with a range of 1,000 miles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

HMS Astute fires a Tomahawk missile.

For detecting enemy ships and submarines, the Astute class are equipped with the sophisticated Sonar 2076, an integrated passive/active search and attack sonar suite with bow, intercept, flank and towed arrays. BAE claims that the 2076 is the world’s best sonar system.

You can read more about the submarine type here.

Britain’s stealthy hunter-killer submarine – The Astute class

What is the UK Carrier Strike Group doing?

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), a deployment that will see the ship and her escorts sail to the Asia-Pacific and back. CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7 month deployment.

The Carrier Strike Group includes ships from the United States Navy, the Dutch Navy, and Marines from the US Marine Corps. As well as British frigates, destroyers, a submarine, two RFA supply ships and air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS. This is the largest deployment of Fifth Generation Fighter Jets at sea in history.

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ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hmm, that’s an interestig photograph with the towed array on the back of a truck. Gives an idea of how big the winch system on the sub must be.

Regarding the Spanish complaints about Gibraltar – there are two cites on the northern coast of Africa (Ceuta and Melilla in Spanish). Morocco claims the two cities as the last outposts of European colonialism in Africa. Spain refuses to give them up on account that the population is determined remain Spanish… This article on the BBC explains more.

Sound familiar!

Cheers CR

PaulW
PaulW
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Pot, kettle, pot, kettle. Repeat forever. Lol

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Apparently the Spanish ‘explain’ this hypocrisy on the basis that Cueta and Melilla are ‘part of Spain’ in a similar way that France’s overseas departments are regarded as part of France despite being thousands of miles away. Whereas Spain regards Gibraltar is as a ‘colony’.

Complete nonsense but there you are 🤷‍♂️

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Hypocrisy is the main tool of politics isn’t? The one area that Spain would struggle with is if another vote in Gibraltar said no to unification with Spain. Regardless of what is considered a ‘colony’ in the 21st century if the people vote to stay British it is game over for another generation. I believe this is why the Spanish did a post Brexit deal with Gibraltar, hoping to influence the population towards unification. I think the Spanish agree with me in that a resurgent Royal Navy basing more ships on Gibraltar would reinforce ties with the UK making a… Read more »

julian1
julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

not to mention the very quick and speedy 100% vaccine rollout!

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I suspect like me, most Brits couldn’t care less if we keep any of the protectorates or not, and realistic military need has pretty much gone, handy to have but wouldn’t hit too hard to lose the base. But as you say the residents have voted and whilst that remains the case, the answe is clear.

If I was spain or Argentina, I would work on that and start buying up land there, over time they could easily change the vote, just might take a generation or two. Capitalism at its finest.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

The Gibraltarians are doing it for you. Most of the richer ones have villas in Spain to which they repair at weekends; Gibraltar is very claustrophobic. This gives the Spanish a huge lever over Gibraltar Opinion Formers (A.k.a Peasant Ignorers, just like the pro-EU elite over here.)

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

It’s an interesting question, why isn’t Gibraltar part of the UK. I would guess its the avoid it having to follow UK tax laws etc, but i wonder why it was the case historically.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Interestingly enough back in the 70’s a referendum in Malta backed it becoming part of the U.K., but the U.K. baulked at the idea so Malta went for independence instead. Personally I’d give joining the Union as an option to all the crown dependencies and overseas territories.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

I love Malta, the island, the history the people, and I wonder if asked again they would fo for it?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

I watched a vid about that recently. It seems they only wanted to join the union after their government pretty much bankrupted them with excessive public spending (here’s looking at Greece) and that in turn why the UK pulled out of the idea, as the gov of the time didn’t want to pay to bail them out.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Hi historically the Maltese were split between identifying with UK or Italy. But nowadays it’s no contest only small and ageing minority would choose UK.

Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

To be a British Dependency is a very nice thing. You can run your own affairs, set your own tax rates and really enjoy yoursleves, while paying a stipend to the UK to provide defence and diplomatic representation.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Yes, I’ve often mentioned this over the years.  😟 

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Hi Captain,

Sorry mate, didn’t mean to steal your thunder.

It just so happened that I saw the article on the BBC yesterday and then this came up, so it made for a timely way of making a referenced point.

The BBC article highlights a circular set of arguements that demonstrate a huge level of hipocrisy all round… Includnig Morocco’s fight in the Western Sahara which is on a week footing if you believe that the majority of people in the region want independence.

I fear hipocrisy and politics tend to go hand in hand everywhere 🙁

Cheers CR

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Didn’t think it mate ….. Funny thing is though we never seem to debate this as much as I would expect given the whole Gibraltar issue.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Its puzzled me over the years that Cueta etc (will struggle with spelling the other one) never seem to be trotted out by UK politicians or media whenever there’s a brouhaha over Gib. It seems pretty simple to me to call it out. I think the vast majority of the population have no idea that Spain has 2 ‘Gibs’ in North Africa.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Exactly mate……… and the vast majority on here too……. Staggered really when you think of all the Experts on here.  😶 

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

I prefer to think of myself as an opinionated old bugger rather than an expert.  😂 

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

 😂 ….. I’m old and of a similar Opinion too…….. Bugger !

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Actually it’s more than just two if you look up all the “plazas de soberania” which include islands off the Moroccan coast, a including tied island – which is ironic given Gibraltar is also a tied island.
But Cueta and Melilla are the two city enclaves.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Cheers, I know there was at least one island as I mind reading about a ‘spat’ where it was ‘invaded’ then the invaders were chased off by the Spaniards. If only the Falklands had been so easy.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

So the answer to all this is it a colony or not would be for Gib to become a full part of UK sending an MP to parliament

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

HI David, That would certainly be one option, perhaps in addition to the current independent Parliament that has considerable power over the interal affairs of Gibraltar. As far as I can determine from Wiki the 17 seat Parliament has advisory role only with the final decision being down to the Governor. However, it seems the UK Government leaves the territory to rule itself. This seems like a very British way of doing things, leave the locals to get on with it but keep a distant eye on things to ensure good governance (although who decides what is good governance would… Read more »

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Unfortunately Spain did not fight Morocco to win, when they(M), invaded it in 1975.
It would be similar if we did Not send a Task force to the Falklands in 1982.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X
Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi mate SSN/SSBNs do not recover TAs fully inboard like they do on a ship. Before any UK SM enters port it has to have the array recovered, normally Plymouth Sound or if up north somewhere around Rosneath.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

 👌 I always like your contributions on here mate. You have some proper Insights into the stuff most of us haven’t a clue about……

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks Deep32,

Now that you point that out I vaguely remember reading something similar but had totally forgotten. It must limit when and where they deploy the arrays as I guess they would not want to have to part with the array where say China or Russia could recover it first?

I am guessing it might also limit speed to some extent.

Thanks for putting me right so politely, I appreciate it.

Cheers CR

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

No worries mate.
As a general rule UK SMs very rarely deploy without a TA , so its attached just after clearing harbour limits as posted above.
If it’s Artful that is part of the CSG deployment, then she will have a TA Recovery Party assigned and they will proceed ahead of her to all her ports of call to recover/deploy the array as and when required.
Pre Covid – 19, it would have been a good wheeze to be on, flying everywhere where needed lots of R&R to be had, but, perhaps not so good now!!!

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Having a TA attached doesn’t really limit SM speed, but it places a limit when turning in one direction due to where its attached. Going astern is generally also a no no, as you stand a good chance of chewing it up, and that upsets the WE’s and Capt- apparently!

Rogbob
Rogbob
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Seen that on T23s, easy to overstress and have to have a new one flown out. Then leave that in the sun on the dockside to heat and swell and also break.

Dont the subs have a way to reel it in now? I recall the S&T boats were clip ons but understood the US went to reelable with the 688s (correct?) and assumed we had with the Astutes given the size and the convenience that offers.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Not sure about the US system, but all of ours are essentially ,’clip on’ insofar as you still have to either attach the tow cable/array or the array itself.
Our SSBNs have a reelable tow system so only the array is attached and once at sea can adjust the length the array is out. It still can’t recover the acoustic modules (array) fully as the difference in diameter between the tow cable and array itself is significant, amongst other issues.

Rogbob
Rogbob
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Interesting, I’d assumed the newer sub systems would be similar to the T23 one which enables full storage to deployment although I guess volume is the issue as its a lot of space needed.

Explains why they put into port so rarely!

The teams that do the connections (and presumably transport the array), must need a few boats – hired RIB/workboats?

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Rogbob

The drum that houses the array is fairly large, and is too big to go under the casing vertically like on a ship. The reelable tow system on our SSBNs is orientated horizontally, on its side if you will, which is far from ideal when deploying or recovering said cable. Any riders and thats the thing jammed(a swift RTP), as we are obviously unable to unjam it.
The teams that fly out to support SM TAops usually hire local boats for the job, as long as they are large enough to house the reel/drum.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks, that’s really interesting.

As for R&R, I feel for the whole of the CSG21 crews as they are going to be very busy and loose out on a lot of exciting runs ashore due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, I recon it’ll still be the highlight of many a career..!

Cheers CR

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

The TA inboard draft was dearly loved by the UC’s, don’t know what its like now but the shortage of UC’s meant that the gig got filled by guys who had left the mob. I can’t help but think that short term fix will contribute to the long term problem of keeping the SSM branch (or whatever they’re calling it now) fully manned. Its maybe changed but I doubt it.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Yes mate I know, but still deep envy all round, whoever is going will clock up some serious air miles!!!

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

SD Northern River docked at Gib before CSG21 – she is probably going ahead of Artful with the TA recovery party.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

That would certainly be the most effective way of keeping the TA secure/safe whenever Artful is alongside anywhere. Not sure if it’s the most cost effective method to use, but certainly the most security effective.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

The UKs Top Trump card. The SSNs.
Never mind how many escorts others have, if they do not have tools like these at their disposal.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Yup, I don’t China trying their luck too far until they have more SSN’s in their fleet. They currently have about 6 at the moment plus quite a few SSK’s. If you want to take on the USN you need good SSN’s especially as I think that a well haandled SSN represents a significant threat to a carrier…

Cheers CR

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

“I don’t see China trying…”

edit didn’t work 🙁

The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known As Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago

Aye these are the game changing assets very very few nations are able to deploy like the RN does. The total nonsense that always gets spouted on here about having to have dozens of frigates and destroyers when just one SSN can send an entire surface naval fleet back to port.

Astute class a real testament to British engineering and know how.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧👍🏻

nic
nic
1 month ago

British ship British port get over it Spain

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago
Reply to  nic

Couldn’t say it any better 😀

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

Guess the Donkey’s Flipflop will be happy that a boat has gone into Gib.  🍻 

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

Just a general question but what is the Arrow thing just in front of the Flipper……in the first Picture…… ?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

What, that Phallus thingy?

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

Lol….. no not that thing mate………… you naughty sausage !

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

What bit you on about mate? Looking on my mobile so can not see it. 🙄

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

It’s just below the “Phallus thingy” a white Arrow pointing at what looks like the Bow Plane …….

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Hi Captain,

The T-Boats had the same kind of thing fitted. There was an article on Navy Lookout about some of the extra kit carried by UK SSN’s.

Link.

Cheers CR

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Thanks for the Link mate…. still couldn’t see anything about the Arrow though…. It’s on both sides and appears on all the Google Pics too so it must have a purpose.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

The arrow appears to be pointing at a series of shinny marks on in an arc, however, I think this might just be conincidence as the arc looks very similar in appearance to the edging around the hatch on the casing, so perhaps they are small inspection hatches for the foreplanes. To my eye the arrow appears to be associated with a white dash and some dark red graduated numerals inside of the arc, just in front of the foreplanes. So could it be something to do with trimming the boat, a bit like a plimsall mark for subs? Only… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Yo Captain,

Just had a look at the picture on Wikipedia of HMS Trafalgar. She appears to have an orange dash by the sail and clearly as graduation marks on the rudder. The Astute boats diagonal aft fins are not visable normally, so this might replace the conventional arrangement for trimming the boat.

Cheers CR

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Ignore my last comment Captain, getting my subs mixed up As Astute class conventional vertical rudders.

DOH CR

Richard Wakefield
Richard Wakefield
1 month ago

Maybe Spain should resign from Nato! The UK, France and the US guarantee Europe’s security with these submarines and our collective nuclear deterrent.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago

Superb assets, great (albeit strange) crews and real battle winners. Fat to dangerous a job for me…….lol. Oh and great advert on the old recruiting side for the submarine service….the RN recruiting ads are way and above the current armies crap.

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

Fat…hmmmmm…. possibly but should say far!

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

Imagine if Portland was Spanish ! They are very similar in a lot of ways, I wonder how we would react to a visit  🤔 

Richard
Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

The Spanish were welcome to invade Portland, keep it full of men and materials and withstand the might of the Royal Navy and British Army for 300 years.
Peace through superior firepower

Richard Cooper
Richard Cooper
1 month ago

The Spanish protests can and should be ignored; it’s none of their business. More interesting is the towed array. Did it break down or did they lose it? Did our eastern friends manage to snip it off? It has happened, and those “friends” have been out for revenge. Our deployment in the South China Sea is more concerning. It now seems accepted that the Chinese were developing Covid as a bio-weapon, but it got away too soon. The Chinese strategic weakness has long been its modest oil supplies. It has been throwing its weight around in the South China Sea… Read more »

Paul Flint
Paul Flint
1 month ago

Not mentioned below, but pertinent to the Gibraltarian people wishing Gibraltar to remain a British Overseas Territory, it has been British for longer than it has been Spanish and it enjoys tax and other financial advantages that would disappear if Gibraltar were to be absorbed into Spain. It is difficult to see how Gibraltar, if Spanish, would generate the wealth that it does presently for its residents. The right to self-determination should be the over-riding factor, which applies to other overseas territories around the world, be they Spanish, British, French or other dependencies of other nations.

criss whicker
criss whicker
1 month ago

Question.
i was given to understand that when Spain joined the EU, it was a condition to give up all territorial claims in other members.

if this is true, then surely we should be taking them to court for compensation,,
after all the EU seem to be starting up a tradition of suing us..

just a thought.

Warspite
Warspite
1 month ago
Reply to  criss whicker

Fat chance of that happening.

Spain has had a ban on any NATO military vessels (including our own) visiting any Spanish port if that vessel has last sailed from Gib, or military aircraft (including RAF) flying over Spanish air space if flying to/from Gib since the Palomares incident in 1966, which Franco partially blamed Gib for.

We didn’t do anything to stop this when Spain joined NATO in the 80s.