Spanish vessel accused of taking ‘executive action’ in Gibraltar waters

Aguila IV
The Aguila IV in Gibraltar waters Credit: GBC screenshot

PERHAPS caught up in the thrill of the chase, a Spanish customs vessel Aguila IV with lights flashing and sirens blaring chased a speedboat into Gibraltar waters and only stopped just before Ocean Village.

Under international protocol, this incursion is considered to be an ‘executive action’ which is deemed a serious action and will be formally protested by the Governor’s Office to the authorities in Madrid.

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The boat being chased is registered in Gibraltar and HM Customs immediately attended the scene and detained the boat being chased and its occupants to check what had happened.

According to Customs officers, when they spoke to the crew of the Spanish vessel, there was an immediate apology for coming so close to the marina and it was explained that having spotted the speed boat in Spanish waters, when asked to stop it immediately fled and was chased.

The Aguila IV was escorted out of Gibraltar waters by HMS Dasher and a Royal Navy RHIB without any further problem, but the main opposition party on the Rock have made it clear that they consider an incursion of this type as “a clear & deliberate disregard of our jurisdiction, sovereignty and control.”

The matter will also be referred back to the newly named Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London.


  1. This should be considered a ‘non-event’, something that occurred in the heat of the moment when a suspicious vessel was being pursued. Spain immediately apologized and that should be the end of the matter.


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