HMS Ambush, an Astute class nuclear submarine, has called into the British territory Gibraltar this afternoon.
— Moses Anahory (@MAnahory) January 11, 2019
In 2016, while surfacing in the Strait of Gibraltar, Ambush was involved in a collision with the Panama flagged merchant ship Andreas, sustaining significant damage to the top of her conning tower where some of her sonar equipment is housed. It was reported at the time that no crew members were injured and later that repairs cost £2.1 million.
Just last month, a Royal Navy vessel fired a warning flare after a 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. Last year, the USS Newport News, a Los Angeles class submarine, was harassed as she visited Gibraltar. This isn’t an isolated incident either, 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 intra theatre 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.