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In the last five years, the British territory has been visited at least 30 times by nuclear submarines, despite Spanish protests.

The information comes to light via a response to a Freedom of Information request, the response can be found here.

Excerpt from the FoI response.
Excerpt from the FoI response.

While the response states there have been “29 visits”, this was determined prior to the most recent visit of a British submarine.

UK overseas territory Gibraltar is a major staging post for military operations globally.

The Spanish government had called for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar after the UK decided to leave the European Union.

95.9% of ‘The Rock’s’ 30,000 population voted overwhelmingly for staying in the EU.

Speaking on national radio, Spain’s Foreign Minister said:

“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time. I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”

Relations aren’t calm however, in 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.

A spokesman for the Governor’s office confirmed the incursion “…in the vicinity of an incoming submarine.”

“The professionalism of the Royal Navy and Gibraltar Defence Police ensured there was no risk to safety.”

This is yet another Spanish incursion into Gibraltarian waters. This is the latest in a long line of political infringements and military incursions into the sovereign territory of Gibraltar. Last year the Spanish Ambassador was formally called into Downing Street and a Formal Complaint was made by the FCO after the Diplomatic Bag was opened on the border with Spain.

Recently there have been many complaints regarding the Spanish behavior, the border guards have purposely caused delays for workers who travel across daily on orders from the Spanish government, there have been other incursions by Spanish vessels into water and Spanish divers were seen carrying out investigations on the artificial reef off the Gibraltar runway (which runs out into the sea).

3 COMMENTS

  1. What do the Spanish have to say in defence of their actions? I feel like there ought to be at least a handful of public statements made by the Spanish Authorities in response to the FCO complaints.

  2. That’s funny – I thought Spain was a member of NATO. Surely they cannot object to a NATO asset visiting a third country?

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