HMS Scimitar intercepted the Infanata Elena yesterday morning and forced the corvette away from British waters off Gibraltar.

A spokesman said:

“We can confirm that a Spanish Navy vessel incurred in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters on November 7. 

The Royal Navy challenges all maritime incursions in BGTW and did so again on this occasion. We will be protesting to the Spanish authorities.”

HMS Scimitar is a Scimitar class fast patrol boat. She was acquired to serve with the Gibraltar Squadron, tasked with policing, customs and search and rescue duties. This released an Archer-class patrol vessel for tasking with the Cyprus Squadron.

Spanish corvette SPS Infanta Elena.

Scimitar was involved in a diplomatic incident between the United Kingdom and Spain in November 2009 after being alleged by the Spanish to have been using the Spanish flag as a target during gunnery practice. The Ministry of Defence stated that the ship had actually been shooting at a NATO maritime signal flag, which is similar in appearance.

In May 2011 Scimitar was dispatched to intercept the Spanish Serviola-class patrol boat Atalaya when she entered British waters (claimed by Spanish) around Gibraltar and ordered ships to leave the area.

The Scimitar took part in another encounter with a Spanish naval vessel in April 2017. It challenged the Infanta Cristina, a Descubierta class corvette that had entered British waters (claimed by Spanish) off of Gibraltar. The Infanta Cristina left without further incident.

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Give them a proper ship to do the chasing. It just looks pathetic with a rib going after a corvette! Batch 1 river should be gifted with a credible weapon.


HMS Severn would have provided an excellent upgrade to the ships based at Gib

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. In fighting people or patrolling the straight. Which is not necessary.

But are we fighting the Spanish? And are they fighting us?


Highly unlikely that this silly posturing would ever come to anything approaching actual combat but if it did that Corvette could blow the Scimitar out of the water! Even the lightly armed Good Ship Severn might not cope!


@Daniele Luckily we’re not fighting the Spanish, nor they us. This is just part of the current periodic pushing and shoving over the Rock.

David Steeper

Daniele it would be an extremely short war and the Spanish are perfectly aware of it. They’re like a playground bully picking on a little kid but if the big brother shows up they disappear. Maybe we should consider conducting naval manouvers around the Canaries. Just for variety of course !

Daniele Mandelli

Gents that was my point!
WHO cares if the Spanish send a corvette into Gib waters? It is ALL they can do, the rock remains British, rightly so, and we move on.

People on this site often complain at the lack of UK naval capability at Gibraltar and my point is it is not necessary to increase the RN’s presence of HMS Scimitar, HMS Sabre and some RIB’s from GDP as this, as David says, is just posturing from Spain.

Jim McGillivray

O H yes that would be a very good idea !


I was more referring Severns size over its capabilities. A bigger ship would be a tad more daunting then what we have there. I don’t think we’d ever resort to conflict at gib but I think a larger ship could scare off Spanish incursions a tad easier.


Just a follow up-The Severn would definitely not cope-that corvette has a 75 mm main gun plus 2 x 40mm guns plus 8 Harpoon missiles-in a ship about 600 tons lighter than the Severn!
Really puts a perspective on how woefully underarmed are our new OPV’s!


OPV’s aren’t for fighting ships, but it would be nice if they get get armed a little bit better

Geoffrey Roach

I know what you mean but every ship should be a fighting ship!

David Steeper

Geoffrey but the problem with your argument is that we would end up with OPV’s the size of the Type 45’s. You need different ships of different sizes and with different armaments in order to carry out different tasks.


Geoff’s right. For Gibraltar we could mount artilliary & ASMs on shore just to have the ability to defend the rock’s waters & deter a Coup de main. I always thought a 76mm gun was the minimum the River OPVs should be armed with, as with most of other nations OPVs.

The Spanish have their own enclave territories in Morocco which they too have no intention of handing over to morocco, so it’s sheer hypocrisy to continually challenge us over Gibraltar.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree. Our Rivers are woefully under armed if we want to use them as corvettes.

The old Peacock Class in Hong Kong had a 76mm gun I recall?


I personally think the RN should look at something like the Skjold, cheap and cheerful (£100 million), fast (40-60 knots), armed with 8 × Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile SSMs, a 75mm cannon, get in, sink, leave. Perfect for inshore work.


Oops, rescue survivors of course, we’re not barbarians.


The timing of this is very clearly motivated by the political situation with Catalonia, as the Spanish Government’s claim is that territorial integrity is in the Constitution, and Gibraltar is a part of that as much as Catalonia is, as far as they’re concerned. In fact they probably felt even a “legal” need for the incursion, to back up their constitutional claims about Catalonia and Spain not being divisible.


I’m sure the MoD can order fire ships.

We can see if BAE & Babcock can still design them!

David Steeper

But if Bae design them …. oh sorry it’s too easy. You come up with your own punchline.

Paul bacarese

As a resident and inhabitant of Gibraltar I can tell you that the Spanish authorities exercise jurisdiction on British territorial waters. I personally have been boarded by the Spanish Guardia civil a kind of paramilitary police I have been searched and told off for not stopping this to me is an insult and humiliating I could tell you many other stories of friends being arrested fishing gear confiscated and boat with kids and family being rammed by these coward bullies all within 3miles from the coast well within btw.

Mr Bell

Redeploy a couple of the River class batch 1s to Gibraltar. But refit them first. 76mm gun, armoured bow to use as a ram.
next time the Spanish try something ram the bugger….


The RN could just buy some already designed ships like the bae systems Khareef-class corvette to patrol Gibraltar an other overseas terrorise. The ship also has the same weapons as the Spanish ship.