Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested firing paintballs at Spanish ships trespassing in Gibraltar’s waters, it has been reported.

According to The Sun here, Williamson floated the idea of using paintball guns to fire at passing Spanish ships to scare them off.

“The chiefs had earlier managed to talk out Mr Williamson from sending a destroyer to Ceuta in tit for tat revenge as a too provocative a move that could lead to conflict.”

The article also goes on to explain that Gibraltar registered almost more than 1,800 intrusions into its waters last year.

“The incursions counted are either by Spanish navy ships, Guardia Civil vessels or state customs boats.”

Williamson’s aides last night appeared to suggest he had been joking about firing paintballs.

Last month, a Spanish warship sailed through the waters of the British territory of Gibraltar, reportedly blasting the Spanish national anthem on loudspeakers. However, some sources have disputed claims that the national anthem was played.

The ship was the Infanta Elena, a Descubierta class corvette dating from 1980.

Spanish actions in and around Gibraltar are frequent, 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.

Last year, 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.”

These aren’t isolated incidents, 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.

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, a 20,000 ton Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

The value of Gibraltar was recently explored by one of our writers in ‘We Will Rock You – The Resilience and Importance of Gibraltar‘, which discusses why Britain, despite the complication of politics and the time, takes the cost and effort it takes to deploy and station military assets and personnel despite the damage to relations with Spain and other nations whom side with the Spanish over the issue of its sovereignty.

The obvious military advantage of Gibraltar is that its geographic position enables pooling of resources for quick deployment throughout the Mediterranean which can be achieved by either air or sea with its dedicated naval port and air base. But another, and often overlooked, reason which simply cannot be ignored is the ability to gather intelligence which the Rock of Gibraltar brings.

Standing over 30 meters taller than the highest point of the Empire State Building the Rock historically enabled a visual long range vantage point into Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and Morocco that could be used to spot enemy movements which Britain could take the necessary pre-emptive measures against. This is still the case today, but rather than only a visual vantage; the rise of technology coupled with the height of the Rock enables an audible vantage where the military are able to both transmit and receive communications over great distances.

This is aided by the Rock itself being a natural structure made of limestone; meaning it is completely maintenance free, with exception to pathways and roads, and is soft enough to create a tunnelling system as was constructed during both the 18th century Siege and the Second World War, yet is strong enough to maintain safe footing and load-bearing’s.

The string of events occurring between the 18th century and leading through to the current day has demonstrated time upon time again that the sovereign territory of Gibraltar has both a military and economic strategic importance. However, these events, as important and well-documented as they are, seem outshone by Gibraltar’s cultural importance as a symbol of national resilience and strength. Gibraltar has remained staunch in its defiance to the numerous overt and covert attacks over the last 300 plus years which has nurtured a culture of dedication and loyalty amongst the locals. This was exemplified in the 2002 referendum where they were asked whether Britain and Spain should share sovereignty – resulting in 98% of Gibratarians saying it should remain British.

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Chris
Chris
2 years ago

I don’t think this is a bad idea. It’s not like we can fire on them with live ammunition. Flares and non lethals show a commitment without escalation.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Flares and non-lethals show nothing other than unwillingness to do anything concrete.

What I am waiting for is HMG to offer them post Brexit concession on fishing on the understanding they stop being silly beggars. For them to take the offer up. And then a few weeks later start playing silly beggars again.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

Oh dear ST Chip on shoulder? Nobody has ever discussed handing Gib. back to Spain as far as I am aware.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

See below.

Tim
Tim
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Paintballing them is a stupid idea.

1800 incursions a year is about 5 a day. We need teathered buoys with chains between them. Also a couple of decent patrol boats, say 100 tons a piece, fast and manouverable with toughened hulls and rubber bumps all round. We need to be much tougher on our stance.

4thwatch
4thwatch
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim

In principle I agree but you need a much bigger hull capable of 30kn, strength and highly manouverable. No rubber bumpers, steel please.
With a likely fish war with the EU possible and the increasing lawlessness on the high seas a class of ‘bumper’ corvettes would be a game changer and match winner.
They see this coming and they realise its game over.

Ian
Ian
2 years ago

Great idea!
And how about having junior ratings throw custard pies from the deck, whilst the Commander and senior officers pull tongues from the bridge?

You could just imagine GW turning over in bed, thinking, “ How can I sort those [email protected][email protected] out?)

Not really a bad idea, but I would add a very foul smelling, tacky, marine friendly additive. Dropped in a giant fire bucket from a land based Chinook! Plenty of down-draft for a good spread! I can just hear GW laughing like Mutley as the images fill the major news channels.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian

I very much GW gives it any thought until a member of staff hands him a piece of paper with his next pronouncement written up on it. I strongly suspects GW like many in the House would gladly give Spain Gibraltar, the Isle of Wight, and our whole EEZ if they wanted it.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

Another chip ST . You’ll have enough for a fish supper soon.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

More knowledge of how the government functions.

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

Such as?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Brilliant! I cannot stop laughing.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago

I’d prefer to send a Destroyer to Ceuta, Load thousands of rotten Onions into the VLS and Fire them Ashore whilst Playing “Rule Britannia” Loudly ,

See how they like them Onions !

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 years ago

LOL

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

LOL!!

keithdwat
keithdwat
2 years ago

Its not the worst idea! He did say is was speaking in jest however, but i kinda like the idea, although maybe something more along the lines of
Can the navy still take prizes???
Commandeer the vessel, send the crew back across the border and then we have a new patrol vessel for Gibraltar! Happy Days! Im sure that wouldn’t sour diplomatic relations too much 😉 It’d be just like 1805!!!

keithdwat
keithdwat
2 years ago
Reply to  keithdwat

….something more along the lines of tear gas would be even better.

Evan P
Evan P
2 years ago
Reply to  keithdwat

Tear gas is banned under the Geneva Convention.

Barry Larking
2 years ago
Reply to  Evan P

I was tear gassed in Paris ten days ago. Can I take the French to court? Like Scottish beef producers … er, em …?

(Mr Williamson has sense of humour. The Spanish need either to grow up or find another way of distracting their public from chronic unemployment problems and uncertainty over breakaway regions.)

geoff
geoff
2 years ago

Custard pies sound good but on a more serious note and trying to be objective I wonder how we would feel if Dover was ceded to Spain in the 1700’s and as a result it was and remained a Spanish enclave on the Island of Britain? Also I wonder at the hypocrisy of the Spanish when one considers their occupation of Ceuta and Mellila on the Moroccan coast is virtually identical to the British situation vis a vis Gibraltar? As a Brit I would respect the wishes of the Gibraltarians who have always voted overwhelmingly to remain British. I also… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 years ago

Completely unrelated, but I love not a million miles from MoD Boscombe Down, Middle Wallop and Salisbury Plain and Ive had three green painted V22 Ospreys fly over today, never seen one before.

Are the MoD still floating the idea of a purchase of V22s? Bearing in mind it was flying the same flight path all AAC choppers seem to fly in and it was in Army colours, it seems to much of a coincidence.

Rokuth
Rokuth
2 years ago

They’re filming a sequel to “The Edge of Tomorrow.”

Nah… I’m just joking…

Harry Nelson
Harry Nelson
2 years ago
Reply to  Rokuth

Didn’t the SF have one for trials??

Callum
Callum
2 years ago
Reply to  Harry Nelson

The media CLAIMED they were trialling it a few years ago, but what was actually happening was that the SAS were conducting joint training with local US forces, which included a unit of Ospreys.

Key thing to note with stories like that: the special forces don’t have any helicopters of their own. There are two dedicated RAF helicopter squadrons that provide air transport (one of which is based near me at RAF Odiham)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Callum

Callum.

658 Sqn AAC is DSF is it not.

Used to be 8 Flight. Dauphins flying from Credenhill. Very much a DSF unit I believe, crewed by some of our best pilots.

Much like No 7 Squadron RAF that you refer to, which is also a part of JSFAW, which if one looks on GE has it’s own facility on the far side of Odiham.

What’s the 2nd RAF helicopter squadron?
Only aware of the one. 47 is fixed wing.

Ian
Ian
2 years ago

Levi, please! “You love” near “Middle Wallop”?

Have you read the rules re-comments?

Levi Golsteinberg
Levi Golsteinberg
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Love is a spelling mistake but Middle Wallop isn’t – it’s the local AAC base

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Love is a spelling mistake but Middle Wallop isn’t – it’s the name of the local AAC base. Quite an active one too, there’s always Apaches and Merlins tearing around the local countryside at all times of the day

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

The Apache are from the OCU at Middle Wallop. The Merlins are from Yeovilton just using the SPTA airspace.

M Wallop or Wattishsm will probably close sadly.

Very interesting report on the Ospreys cheers Levi.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

Levi Goldsteinberg Just chatting to an one of those aviation watchers tonight who track aircraft movements. There are two Osprey and they have been using Middle Wallop and Boscombe.

Interestingly, there is a Shadow R1 currently doing circuits of SPTA so I guess some sort of SF exercise is underway.

Lageraemia
2 years ago

You do your lovin’ on Salibury plain…..al fresco style.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago

There is video on YouTube of MV22 going through the Mach Loop in Wales last month……

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

Steve, What’s the most Impressive aircraft through the Mach Loop ? I’ve seen F15’s Harriers, Hawks and Tornado’s, In person but lots more on YouTube. For me It’s the Tornado. They fly so low. “Awesome” as our Colonial friends say.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 years ago

I think seeing C17s passing through the loop is the most amazing; they seem to completely fill the valleys

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago

I’ve only seen them on YouTube but that must be some sight, Last time I went, was years ago, It was horrible weather and I left early before I saw anything. Not been since.

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago

Levi is right I think it is the big slow stuff more than the quick and nimble as you sort expect spectacular from the latter.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Taylor

I just have a soft spot for Tornados, was up near Ullapool a few years back, minding my own business when one ” approached me from behind” at speed, with attitude but not much altitude. Yup, a proper touching cloth experience it was too. Had a Similar Experience at Chivenor , Early 80’s with a Dracken, It was Lower and Faster.
On ship, It’s not quite the same as There Is no Noise Reflecting Background, less Immediate Confusion.

GWM
GWM
2 years ago

We need to beam Faulty towers episode’s into Spain from the top of Gibraltar till they stop.

Herodotus
2 years ago
Reply to  GWM

What about the East Enders theme music? That would be enough to send a saint stir crazy!

Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor
2 years ago

Two small tugs, one of DAMEN’s models Ice strengthened ones, fitted for fi-fi is what is needed.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

Hey, the DS must have been reading UKDJ I suggested firing coloured dye at the Spanish on an earlier article.

It was suggested by another poster bright pink might be most apt….

In all seriousness why the hell not.

Lusty
Lusty
2 years ago

Can’t we just lob rotten Paellas at them?

Herodotus
2 years ago

I doubt that DS reads these pages. Its probably something his children suggested!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Sign them up!

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago

Why the Hell Not ? Because It’s Childish and Silly.

Can I Volunteer please. Captain Pugwash Attacking the Spanish would make great Headlines.
“Twas on the good ship Venus, By god you should have seen us” etc, etc.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

“Childish and Silly”

Like the Spanish behaviour.

If you cannot beat them….

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago

I’ll Steer If you man the Pink Dye Weapon. ( !!!!! ) All we need now Is someone to sing Rule Britannia.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago

Lol!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 years ago

I’m with you Captain. Personally volunteer to man the catapult or paint ball canon.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Welcome Aboard Mate, We’ll put you at the Front and call It “The Bell End”.

Helions
Helions
2 years ago

Steel torpedo nets, closely controlled access channel, and a BAD attitude…

That is all…

Cheers

Herodotus
2 years ago

I would have thought that the current strategy of smiling and then moving on is the best. When a toddler throws a tantrum fit it is best to ignore it. Nothing causes more irritation than going about your daily business and ignoring the pathetic attempts to cause disruption. Leave it the way it is and sooner or later the Spanish will cross the line and end up being sanctioned by the international community. They will sooner or later discover, as most children do, that it is better to control your own emotions rather than trying to control other people’s behaviour!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Smile whilst the Spanish take the piss, smile whilst the EU disrespect us, smile whilst they take £37 billion as a divorce bill all handed over by smiling inept politicians that I never voted for. There comes a time when trying to take a higher moral position is actually just seen as cowardly and an unwillingness to protect UK waters, territorial integrity and only encourages more activity and more encroachment from the Spanish. I read recently that the German fishing industry will need to just ignore whatever happens in Brexit negotiations as without access to UK territorial waters 4000 of… Read more »

Herodotus
2 years ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

@Mr Bell
Might have known that the Spanish behaviour over Gibraltar was all the fault of EU. As your name implies Mr Bell, you only have one note!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Of course its not the EU’s fault concerning Gibraltar.

However, most of the rest of his post is spot on.

And on Gibraltar, I agree with you. We hold the moral high ground, let them play their games.

Steve
Steve
2 years ago

What concerns me is that as a EU member, under EU rules, all Spain can do is play silly git and do announce tactics. The second we leave the EU, Spain will be within the rights to close the border or do anything else they like to really hurt Gibraltar. I would hope they won’t, but its possible that they might.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

There Is a Huge Expat Community In Spain, Generating an enormous amount of Revenue. I’m sure they Know this too.

Steve
Steve
2 years ago

Important part of that statement is IN Spain. They are mainly there for the lifestyle and really have effectively become Spanish (ok there are some workers that are there short term but majority have moved there to retire), which means they are out of the equation. Additionally what do we do, put customs in place to annoy our own nationals returning home, how does that hurt anyone other than the UK.

We could do it against Spaniards living in England or Visiting, but that would just hurt our own economy again.

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 years ago

Load the paintballs with enamel paint so it’s really hard to scrap off….. make it pink as well to hit a them right in their machismo…..

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

With shiny silver and gold unicorns in the paint

paintballgunsreview
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

yes i am agreed with you guys

Patrick Galvin
2 years ago

What we have, we hold.

Jonny
Jonny
2 years ago

Capture some local British graffiti vandals and drop them in whichever Spanish port these ships come from, then unleash them saying “have fun!” 🙂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonny

We could put them through a “Selection” the Sneaky boats way, then HALO or SDU them in! 🙂

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
2 years ago

I think I posted something about a modern version of a “torpedo ram” vessel- aka war of the worlds design. Something of 100-200 tons, armoured toughened hull with ramming design- it would have to be fast and minimally crewed- then deploy to Gibraltar and tell it to hit side on any Spanish vessel incursion into our waters and if they do not back of then a full on head charge ram after they have been formally warned. Is there anyone else out there getting fed up with our country being taken for granted, treated badly and generally disrespected by our… Read more »

Herodotus
2 years ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

For goodness sake grow up! That’s really infantile stuff.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Herodotus

But, Gavin Started It !!!!

Frank62
Frank62
2 years ago

Not much point going on about this. If we fire paintballs, they can just fire back: It’s childish.
Legally we don’t own any waters off Gibralter. Spain ceded Gib, but never any waters; which, if I’m correct, is why they object to us trying to enforce any “territorial” rights off shore.
If you know better, then tell me. I was as upset as nay when I first heard of these Spanish “incursions”, but couldn’t find any legal basis for our supposed territorial waters.
I’m not defending buzzing warships as they enter & leave Gib.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank62

But Frank, I think you will find It was an Off the Cuff, Tongue In Cheek, Humorous remark Served up with a side of Sarcasm. Personally, I can relate to that. It also doubles up as a Non Aggressive Response to a Equally Childish and ongoing Attempt by the Spanish to Goad us into a response. Much Respect from me to Gavin. Diplomacy manifests Itself In many ways.
A future Prime Minister In the Making ?

Herodotus
2 years ago

Prime Minister in the making. Bit of step up from ‘ooh I would paintball the cheeky so and so’s, to ‘We will fight them on the beaches!! Still, I suppose he has to start somewhere.

captain P Wash.
captain P Wash.
2 years ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Better than what we have now though!