The MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) department has issued the first expression of interest for the procurement of two new fast patrol launches for the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron.

The vessels will replace the existing vessels of the Scimitar class HM Ships Scimitar and Sabre and will take on their role protecting British Gibraltarian Territorial Waters and representing British interests in the wider western Mediterranean.

The design is required to meet speeds in excess of 35 knots, be capable of day/night operations and all weather operations up to Sea State 6-7. This represents a significant capability increase on the current vessels which have a stated top speed of 32 knots.

The Scimitar class vessels currently have the honour of being the smallest commissioned warships in the Royal Navy. Until last year they had been second to the survey launch HMS Gleaner but are now smaller than its replacement HMS Magpie.

The vessels have been in Gibraltar since 2003, having previously been used by the Royal Marines in Northern Ireland, and replaced vessels of the P2000 Archer class which were re-deployed to Cyprus.

Though it is a mainstay claim of social media commentators that the Royal Navy should deploy a larger vessel, such as a Batch 2 River class patrol boat, to deter Spanish incursions they are unsuited to the roll. In the confined space of Gibraltarian waters effectives incident response requires a vessel that can put to sea and be on scene in a matter of minutes.

DE&S has stated that it plans to prequalify between three and six shipyards during the tendering process. Bidders have been given until the end of July to complete and submit a pre-qualification questionnaire to assess their suitability before the next stage of the process.

Safehaven Marine, who designed and built the soon to be commissioned HMS Magpie are likely to be a contender with a variant of their Barracuda design. The design series comes in a variety of variants, will hull forms ranging from 13m to 19m, and could easily be adapted to meet the Royal Navy’s criteria.


    • why not actually fit the 20mm cannon to half a dozen archers and finally let us see what these university ‘fanny’ boats can actually do as royal navy vessels?

    • i served on ‘sabre, back in the late 70’s on patrols around the northern ireland coast, they are very stable, well suited platforms fast, nimble well drilled, craft, and with the 20mm cannon mounted, pack a fair punch.

  1. Good timing. It looks increasingly like a no deal BREXIT with UK crashing out of the beloved EU. We are going to need to safeguard the EEZ of Gibraltar. A flotilla of armed rapid response and fast attack boats is going to be needed.
    Things are going to get a bit choppy.

    • They’ve also just added an interesting note about sorting Gibraltars post Brexit status out, at the behest of Spain…. potentially worrying.

        • No it isn’t, only a truly fevered mind would think that!

          The EU that we are still currently a member of is our closest economic partner and harming the UK is not a priority for the block.

          Protecting the integrity of the EU, its institutions and the Single Market is a priority for the EU and no amount of Cakeism from the UK is going to change that!

          • About time the Gibraltar situation was addressed and put on a more stable footing as befits relations between two European, democratic NATO allies. It’ll require a bit of give and take from both sides which I’m sure is possible. It’s as much in Spain’s interest to come to a sensible agreement as UK’s. But so long as the rabid dog’s tail (Gibraltarians) is allowed to wag the dog it won’t happen. As for replacing the patrol boats, I’m sure it’s necessary but they don’t need to be heavily armed. We’ll never start shooting against a Spanish vessel, although something to interdict drug or human trafficking or terrorists might be necessary.

          • ‘Says any Russian troll or Donald Trump…..,’

            Amazes me that anyone would vote for leaving after Putin & Trump said they were in favour of it !

          • ffs keep trump out of it. its nothing to do with the americans, keep it that way.

        • even more excuse for looking after the rock’s security, i’d like to see the the next t26 or the first t31 named’ gibraltar(one in the eye for spain) and the next ‘stanley (for the argies).

        • I agree with you Andy. If it looks like the threatened deliberate dismembering of the UK, then it IS the threatened dismembering of the UK , and it is the threat of an act of war. All very Clausewitzian.
          May, of course, needs to spell this out… oh I forgot. Well, are we really going to sit around and play patsy to these people?

      • No chance of Spanish mitts on Gibraltar.
        Fabian Picardo will not let that happen, and i am sure May wont either.
        If they do then there will be a shit storm!

      • this about security for the rock. don’t go off subject its nothing to do with brexit. lets keep politics off this site.

    • To do what exactly? Are you proposing to go to war with Spain?

      If Spain wanted to push the issue over Gibraltar a few armed gunboats are hardly going to be an issue for the Spanish armed forces.

      GET A GRIP!

  2. Whilst i don’t think there is any serious risk of spain invading Gib, it will be interesting to see if their sillness picks up when the EU is not there to stop them. The main problem will be the border and them putting excessive checks in place to try and force a view in Gib that maybe being part of Spain would be to their benefit.

    No amount of boats etc will stop this and we can’t even strong arm Spain because we have no interest in going to war with them and they know it, and we can target trade sanctions because they are in the EU and it would kill our economy if the EU supported Spain.

  3. Just remember Spain has a rather large tourism dependency and we make up a fair chunk of that. They start kicking off big style and I think us brits will vote with our feet about holiday destinations.

    • As far as I know the Spanish tourist sector accounts for 12% / 13% of their GNP, while the British tourist sector represents about 9% of the UK’s GNP… so not such a big difference actually… There are plenty of Spaniards that go to Britain for holidays too, and they also will vote with their feet about holiday destinations…. Delusional Victorianism does not count in the real world, I’m afraid.

      • if the thousand or so spanish, working on the rock deserted gib, then its whole economy would collapse.

    • Possible if they changed out the engine, the hull is capable of 45kn but can only make 25kn because of the installed engine.

      BAE Systems own the rights to the design now, frankly I am sceptical they would want to bid on such a small contract when they would be competing with other more modern off the shelf solutions.

      No need for a 20mm by the by, a GPMG is more than adequate for its intended role. They are not going to get into high sea battles with the Armada Española or Guardia Civil despite what some of the more extreme Brexiteers seem to think at the moment…

      • I think we should be at least matching the armament on the Spanish ships habitually encroaching, to demonstrate our resolve & give our boats a chance if things got out of hand. Though dismisssing it as a nuisance & downplaying it is another possible strategy.

  4. We’re not preparing for invasion but surely we need to be ready for it, at least in-part. Gib, in general, could never defend itself.

    • No it couldn’t but the Gib regiment would make life very difficult for anyone who did.
      The Gib Regt are probably the worlds best exponents of tunnel fighting and there are lots and lots of tunnels in Gib.
      Should you ever get the chance to visit the “not open to the public ” tunnels its a real eye opener.
      Then you will understand where all the rubble came from to build the airport runway out into the sea…

      • If Spain decided to roll the tanks through the border the Gib regiment would surrender pure and simple, to engage in combat would be utter insanity in the face of vastly superior firepower.

        I wish this Jingoistic nonsense would go away! I swear some commentators here actively want war with Spain!

        • I certainly don’t want a war with Spain, but if they decided to take Gibraltar by force we would destroy them. For them to engage in combat with us would be utter insanity in the face of vastly superior firepower.

          • Which is why it would never happen! Honestly, UK go to war with Spain??? You’re all mad… Totally off your rockers.

        • Fedaykin I agree that talk of armed conflict with Spain is pretty silly to be fair, there will be no invasion of Gibraltar of any kind it’s not even in the back of Spanish minds.

          But I do have to disagree with you fully on this..

          “If Spain decided to roll the tanks through the border the Gib regiment would surrender pure and simple, to engage in combat would be utter insanity in the face of vastly superior firepower.”

          If you think armed conflict is as black and white as that then every history book needs to be rewritten, the only times you surrender is if you have no chance of defence and don’t want wiped out or a decision is made that surrendering is the best option (too many of your own civilians dying being one)

          The Gibraltar regiment are metres away from 35 miles of tunnelling inside an impregnable rock. Tanks, armoured vehicles would be redundant so there would be no surrender in this situation, not when the UK is so close and Gibraltar is so important and has such a good defensive option.

          Pretty sure the Gib Regiment has anti tank, anti air and mortar troop, sniper teams and some artillery guns, stick all that in the rock with stores and ammo and there isn’t no “shit they’ve got tanks outside where’s the white flag”

          It would be highly unlikely that Spanish troops would even try clear 35 miles of tunnels defended by the British Army, that would be suicide for a lot of men entering and they would know that.

          Not to mention any Spanish military build up on the sly is virtually impossible, so we would already know about an assault coming, and the Gib Regiment would already be inside the Rock.

          • Frankly you are deluded if you think that! Spain could take Gibraltar by force easily and they would hardly need a build up. If the Gib regiment wanted to lock themselves into the tunnels and starve for a while I doubt the Spanish army would be that bothered.

        • Hardly need a build up? So they are going to invade and occupy a territory that has a British Army base, international airport and 35 000 people that don’t want anything to do with them with what exactly? A few soldiers sat on top of a tank? I think you’re the one that’s deluded you’re talking complete nonsense.

          Spain has no major assets in the south, hardly anything around Cadis and nothing in La Linea, a single tank heading south in that area would stand out like a sore thumb.

          So yes they would be in the tunnels, and the Spanish Army won’t be bothered? The rock is the main geographical and strategic feature in Gibraltar, for Spain to claim Gib as theirs they would have to take it Ffs, how on earth could they claim victory if the entire British garrison was in control of the fortress that covers most of Gib! And surely to f**k they would want 35 miles of tunnels in a massive rock that can house 15k troops for themselves so they could have a chance of defending Gibraltar from a British response.

          What an idiot.

          You’re like that website global firepower, only a fool measures strength on numbers alone.

          • I suggest you look at a map and where the airport is you crazy Jingoistic idiot! FYI the base is on the map as well.

            The Spanish would just drive a few trucks onto the runway to close it and then blockade the harbour. It would take little effort…

            This isn’t some boys own adventure in the Commando comic, the RAF is not going to be having dog fights with the Spanish airforce over the rock and Royal Navy task forces are not going to be sailing to save the day. Spain has an excellent motorway network they could have some tanks there within hours and be smashing through the border post and parking on the runway before you were up for breakfast! They also have transport aircraft and helicopters. They have naval commandos who could be flown in to take key points by surprise within hours. They have ships that sail right by the rock regularly.

            If some brave fools want to hide themselves in 35 miles of tunnels so what? The Spanish would put a few guys with machine guns at the key entrances and wait for the guys playing hero to get a bit hungry.

            All this Jingoistic crap is tiresome!

    • LOL… How sweet… ha, ha… really, red cheeks Englanders are really funny… Invading Spain??? ROLF… With what? Spain does not force the situation and recuperate the rock due to international politics, mainly.
      If they wanted to, they could take Gibraltar in some hours with today’s weaponry. We are not in the XVIII century with cannons, sabres and Musketoons any-more.

      • wars are not for joking about, i was in the falklands.( antrim)it wasn’t nice, and certainly not funny

    • with the political commitment the rock fitted with modern defence systems would easily be defendable.against ANYONE

  5. Funny comments here, really… Red cheeks Englanders are really funny… LOL… How sweet they are… ha, ha… Sending vessels?… Invading Spain??? ROLF… With what? Spain does not force the situation and recuperate the rock due to international politics, mainly.
    If they wanted to, they could take Gibraltar in some hours with today’s weaponry. We are not in the XVIII century with cannons, sabres and Musketoons anymore.

  6. Why not use the brave class of fpb from the 1970s as a template for the new Gibraltar patrol boats as they had speed, maneuverability and teeth ( 40mm gun and 21inch torpedo tubes)

  7. I never get the worry over Spanish ships transgressing onto Gibraltar waters.

    Let them!

    It changes nothing.

    It is sabre rattling. We chase them off. Later it happens again. Repeat.

    They need to be seen to be doing something and the UK is seen to be responding. It is proportionate. Spain will not attack a fellow NATO member and nor will we.

    However, that does not mean we should not match whatever the Spanish are playing with or ignore the terrorist threat to shipping.

    Gibraltar is far too important as a strategic location monitoring North Africa, and ships and cables from the med into the Atlantic, for the UK and US ( GCHQ NSA ) to ever be given up.
    The same applies at the other end of the med in the key SBA’s in Cyprus.
    Check out Windmill Hill and its “Maritime Data Centre” as just one example. The place is bristling with antennae.

    There was also a NATO JOC inside the rock but unsure if still active.

  8. I served on the P2000 HMS Archer when it was based in Dundee with the RNR a nice little boat that with the 20mm could cause problems. However, possibly it is time to reintroduce for Gib, Cyprus and the English Chanel a proper missile attack boat. With a 40mm gun, two GPMGs, 4 Harpoons and a small six launcher Sea Ceptor launcher with a speed of 40 knots and a seven day at sea time. There should be enough to form squadrons so not only would they replace the Gib squadron but the complete P2000 class as well with a few extra for the Caribbean region. that means about 20 vessels. This could be either vessels similar to the Norwegian Skjold class, which would give a cost of about 1.25 billion Sterling or a combination of vessels similar to the Swedish Visby class as squadron leaders and the Skjold class giving a cost of 1.5 billion Sterling.
    Lots of money I know but look what extra capabilities your getting.

  9. Although it is obviously important to dissuade Spain, I would have thought one of the main reason for these boats would be anti-terrorism especially protection on rn vessels from fast boats. Hence the speed requirements but this could also have other requirements such as the ability to intercept and board. The skjold class are full on combatants and whilst I think these are fantastic and see a role in the littoral perhaps procured to give Close support to Royal Marines in wartime/protect the beech , they are likely to be well outside the range of a pb cost and surely wouldn’t meet the requirement. The p2000 are dual role with support of university squadrons not sure skjold would fit in? Also If we want to counter Spain the best ship/boat would be queen Elizabeth, astutes or actually arming type 45 with cruise missiles etc. Or maybe we should procure Zulmwalts?!


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