THE Royal Navy was forced to direct several flares at a Spanish research vessel which wandered into the Bay of Gibraltar on Sunday November 20.
The HMS Sabre initially attempted to make contact with the Angeles Alvariño by radio. Upon receiving no response it fired several flares at the encroaching vessel, a research ship which was conducting a study on the state of the sea bed in the area.
This is reportedly not the first incident of a Spanish vessel making an appearance in the bay over the last few weeks, and many feel that the manoeuvres may be political in nature. Specifically, some locals and officials have argued that the increased sightings may be indicative of Spain attempting to stake its claim over the area.
Following the incident on Sunday, Dr. John Cortes, Gibraltar’s Minister for the Environment, took to Twitter to express his frustration, stating that “it hurts to see scientists being forced/tricked into playing dangerous games, falsely in the name of science.”
Not missing a beat, Spanish researchers were quick to bite back, with Scientist Señor Diaz-del-Rio insisting that the vessel had been conducting important research and that it had previously been operating in Spanish waters before going off course.
Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was quickly made aware of the incident. He was vocal in his support of the Royal Navy, commending them for their quick thinking and successful defence of British waters. Picardo went on to lament the “reckless disregard for safety” demonstrated by the Spanish vessel.