The cycle of Spanish incursions into Gibraltar waters

  1. Spanish send small naval vessel / police boat / fishing vessel into British Gibraltar territorial waters.
  2. Gibraltar authorities issue polite warning to leave.
  3. Spanish either ignore request or make some obviously insupportable claim about entitlement to operate in “their waters”.
  4. Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron or Royal Gibraltar Police boat despatched to remove them.
  5. Spanish vessel either moves away or remains, sometimes acting dangerously, putting lives and vessels at risk.
  6. Population of Gibraltar is furious and the Governor contacts UK Foreign Office in London.
  7. Foreign Office summons the Spanish Ambassador in London and gives him a ‘formal letter of protest’.
  8. Spanish Ambassador politely receives the formal letter of protest, goes home and puts it straight in his shredder.
  9. Daily Mail / Daily Express prints outraged (but inaccurate) article about the incident.
  10. Someone says “we need to send more Royal Navy warships to Gibraltar”.
  11. Everyone remembers there are no spare Royal Navy warships to send to Gibraltar.
  12. Subsidiary argument ensues about type, size and availability of frigates / OPVs / tugs that could be based in Gibraltar and the effectiveness of guardships in times past.
  13. Incursions continue but UK Foreign Office refuses to do anything more about it, not wanting to offend our “key EU and NATO allies”.
  14. Spain (NATO member) provides refuelling facilities for Russian warships in its own “colonial territory” of Ceuta, adjacent to Morocco.
  15. Major Royal Navy vessel arrives Gibraltar for a few days while in transit to or from Gulf deployment, people in Gibraltar cheer up slightly.
  16. Unpleasant Spanish nationalist types make abusive comments about the English on social media and in Spanish press.
  17. Major Royal Navy vessel departs. People in Gibraltar feel vulnerable.


Whole pantomime repeats again.


Photo courtesy of: Michael J Sanchez