HMS Ambush, an Astute class nuclear submarine, has called into the British territory Gibraltar this afternoon.

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.

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Cam Hunter

We should have some RN ships based at Gibraltar even just 1 GP frigate or an ofshore patrol vessel at the minimum. Hms Clyde would have done fine, maybe a new OPV might get the job in future.

It’s also going to be very interesting to see what the government call a “new bigger up armed vessel” that the small Gibraltar RN Squadron will receive soon. Anyone know what they will be getting? Or Will it be just like HMS magpie?


They’re getting two new vessels to replace the current two.

The contract has been tendered, but no news yet on potential vessels.

Would agree with forward basing an OPV or Type 31 *from* there for wider Med duties, but they wouldn’t be practical for patroling Gib itself.

Malcolm Palin

A larger Gemini I think. Keep costs down.


Spain needs to realise they are dealing with allies and not rouge forces. If any US vessels are damaged due to these ongoing shenanigans, the repercussions on Spain could be significant.

captain P Wash.

Cam, I remember the Announcement a while back , I’ve been Hunting on the Net but can’t really find anything other than They will be Bigger with more firepower and 35 knots. Apparently the Batch 2’s are not suitable due to Agility. I guess that rules out the Type 31’s then. I’ll have a look at Safe Marine In a bit to see what they might be offering.

captain P Wash.

Safehaven Marine, soz.

captain P Wash.

OK, Having Tapped away with Gay Abandon on the Puter , I’m going with Barracuda. It’s Fast, Agile and It has a 12.7 Gun. Actually, It would be great to have more than just two as we could use them in home waters to protect our Ports and Coastline from “Intruders”.

Daniele Mandelli

Buy a dozen and base 2 each in the southern coastal ports. Crew them with RNR and URNU.


Interesting research captain. Thanks.

For those who want to follow along, here is the link to what I assume you are talking about…

captain P Wash.

Yes Julian, The 19 metre would be my choice, Multi Purpose and Affordable. Thanks for posting the Link, not sure how to do it personally.

Cam Hunter

I mean we should base an OPV or a GP frigate in Gib for the deeper ocean around it and the med in general. And that barracuda boat by safehaven Marine looks great for the inshore waters of Gibraltar, looks mean as hell.

Also the GIb police have nice new interceptor boats, take a look

captain P Wash.

“Ahead Full Number One” , 40 plus Knots with a big Gun should do it.


We just need some old tug boats,paint them grey and ram them if they get to close job done.


Memories of the Cod Wars with Iceland…

Steve Taylor

Yes. The problem isn’t the Spanish navy ships. The problem is the Spanish government ships who undertake hydro graphic and other survey’s in Gib’s waters. These will potter about for hours.

I wouldn’t buy old ones I would get new ones fitter out for fi-fi and perhaps even ‘harden’ the bridge.

Something like the Damen 3412 should do.


Just ram the little buggers with a 5000hp powered Trireme!
That’ll bring back some Mediteranian nostalgia for all ??

They play silly buggers all the time, one day they will cause something awful.
They are stupid, stupid people on those ships….
Stay in your own lane Spain.

Stewart York

It’s what we did during the cod war, rammed the beggars!


Slightly of track here folks but I have just been reading that the MoD is thinking about future overseas bases. The choice for the South China Seas appears to be either Singapore or Brunei and for the Caribbean Montserrat or Guyana. Apparently the Russians are going ballistic about it and promising retaliation in kind with possibly Cuba and Vietnam as bases for them. What do you think? With Cuba I think the US will have something to say about it if Russia tried to build a base and as for Vietnam I’m not sure but I can’t imagine the Chinese… Read more »

David E Flandry

Guyana would be good, considering Venezuela’s designs on the western half of the country. Monserrat would benefit economically, what with the volcano sending half the population abroad, but if its either-or I’d choose Guyana. Could do some jungle training there also.


True, tho batsub in Belize is back up and running these last couple of years for the jungle training….

David Steeper

My choice would be Montserrat plus whichever of Brunei and Singapore offer the best deal. Probably Brunei all other things considered that would make the most sense. The Gurkhas are already there.


I’m not sure it would be wise to build a new base on what is an active volcanic island, with limited sea and airports. That’s just my opinion though.

Then again, it could provide the island with crucial development and modernisation. It will be interesting to see how this story develops further.

Cam Hunter

Most of these locations are ex British territory’s. And we already have a Gurkha brigade based in Brunei and Jungle training in Guyana both old British territory’s, and the french still have french Guyana but we gave ours back! Now the Europeans launch rockets from the french territory. But we British still have Monserat so that would be a fine place for a base, but we did used to have a base in Bermuda but we gave that up not long ago!. We better not give up the British West Indies as they are British forever.


Possibly it is time for the UK Government to be a little more aggressive in their stance. Yes they are thinking about building two new vessels for Gib. What will they be, probably something with a 20 mm gun. Is that going to send a message, not really. If what the Telegraph has reported is true and we really mean to build a further two overseas bases one of which is in the South China Seas and with the new bases in the Persia Gulf region then maybe we need to think again. Do we have the frigate and destroyers… Read more »


This would be a perfect role for something like the littoral combat ship. A crew of only 40 and you get a mk 110, a couple mk 44s, and 24 hellfires… also a towed sonar and torpedo tubes, so could monitor whats going in and out of the med.

David E Flandry

License build about 4 Visby-class corvettes. One each in Gibraltar, Cyprus, the Gulf, one in the UK in refit/repair.


On the subject of the Batch 2 OPV’s, HMS Forth wads commissioned into the RN on April 13 last year-9 months ago. Very soon thereafter the builders were issued with a long snag list and she was taken back for repairs. It would appear that she has still not been returned to service. In the interim 2 more Batch 2’s have been ‘launched’-Medway on sea trials and Tamar fitting out, so my question is-where in Heavens name is Forth? When will she return to service?? It seems quite bizarre that she could still be under repair for some relatively minor… Read more »


Last I saw, she’s still alongside in Portsmouth. She didn’t need to be drydocked, and I think it was recently reported that she’ll go to the Falklands towards the end of this year,


edit – she did enter drydock, my bad.


..a Edit facility would be nice..

Daniele Mandelli

What a magnificent and menacing looking boat the Astute is.

John Clark

Agreed Daniele, despite a very rocky and difficult start, the Astute class are really coming right now.

In a real shooting war, a single Astute with a full spearfish load out, would be capable of bringing most Navies to their knees.

Daniele Mandelli

Battleships of the RN.

I would have more over any other asset, including escorts.

John Clark

I couldn’t agree more, the line in the sand was 12 boats in my opinion ( with sufficient crew to man 9 at all times), we should never have dropped below that point. The 7 Astute boats we will eventually have will be worked ‘extremely hard’, especially if the new Cold war continues to heat up. 10 boats is an absolute minimum, with 12 seeming to be the right balance, 12 allowing a well maintained deployable fleet of 8 in tip top condition, with refits and along side up keep maintenance periods for the rest. In an ideal world we… Read more »

Cam Hunter

We 100% need more atack submarines in Royal Navy service and maybe one or two more Drednought class also. Even 1 extra Drednought would give the crew more time at home with fammily thus retaining more of them and would decrease the wear and tear of all the Subs. And our nuclear deterrent cost should be a totally seperate issue and nothing should come from the defence budget to run, crew maintain them. And South Korea has 16 atack submarines, Japan has 19, India 15 turkey 12 atack submarines and the Royal Navy has 6 atack submarine just now and… Read more »


Just to note, Cam, Bermuda is still a British Overseas Territory.