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.

36 COMMENTS

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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”.

    • 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.

  5. 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 or Japanese will have the same issue and not be very happy about that.
    As for the UK to build a base in these two geographical areas for me makes sense on the condition that we have the forces to use it.
    The article that I was reading is from The Telegraph written by Alec Luhn dated 11/01/2019

    • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

  6. 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 to protect these areas of interest, No.
    With that being the case then maybe we should build a class of fast attack boats, 450-500 tons, 35 knots, 1*57 mm Bofors Mk3, 2*20mm M61 Gatling guns, 2*7.62mm miniguns, 4*NSM and 8 Sea Ceptors. Duration at sea for these boats should be no more than 7 days and a range of 2000 miles better would be 2,500 miles, these would be good for local defense. Now you could have two for Gib, two for Cyprus, three for the Persian Gulf, two for Brunei and three for the Caribbean this gives 12 in total with possibly a further three for refit and repair giving 15. What does this mean, well for the cost of one T26 possibly 1.5 times the cost we could patrol an area with one vessel cover and control an area of 98,175 miles, with 12 vessels it would be an area of 1,178,097 miles but as only half of the vessels will be at sea at one time it would be 589,048miles. that is if I limit the range to 500 miles from base and patrol then 500 mile to return. Half a million sq miles of sea does not sound much, but it is much more than we have now and it is not using the frigates, destroyers or carrier power. With some lee way (extra fuel 2,100 miles) Gib-Cyprus could reinforce each other if the need arose.
    These could also replace some of the P2000 class. It would free up the frigates and destroyers to do the job they are meant to do. I also think it would show intent would the Spanish navy really want such a craft coming to meet them, or drug smugglers in the Caribbean or for that matter even the Chinese in Brunei waters. It would them stop and think.
    Before people say they are over armed etc I have checked other countries are managing to do this type of outfit except the Gatling guns on 250 tons.
    Its only a pity that we no longer have VT as they could design such a craft.

    • 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.

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

  8. 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 snags ( MONTHS down the line!! At this rate she will be in rectification for almost as long as it took to build her.

    • 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.

        • 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 would have 16, an immensely powerful force.

          • 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 we are getting 7 luckily! It was touch and go though!!…. I wouldn’t mind if we went for another 6 conventionally powered submarines, we have amazing submarine design and building skills in Britain and especially in barrow, we should build more, won’t conventionally powered submarines be far cheaper??

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