Spanish vessels have been making more frequent and blatant incursions into the waters around Gibraltar recently, and the governor has made it public that he supports the deployment of another, larger RN ship in the area to help deter these jaunts:
Governor Sir James Dutton has publicly voiced strong support for the deployment of a larger British naval vessel to patrol Gibraltar’s territorial waters.
Sir James, a retired Royal Marine with a distinguished military record, said such a move would send “a really valuable message” in the face of persistent incursions by Spanish state vessels.
“I think it should happen, I have always thought it should happen, I’ve always said it should happen,” he said during a wide-ranging interview on GBC’s Talk About Town.
Sir James said deployment of an offshore vessel would strengthen the Royal Navy’s ability to patrol British waters and stay at sea for longer periods of time.
The governor also revealed that “many” officials at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office supported such a deployment, but that other factors had to be considered including parallel demands on the UK’s limited resources.
“I would be lying if I said one is going to arrive next week, but there is a strong push for it and there is a lot of sympathy, there is a lot of support,” he said.
During the interview, Sir James said Spain was unlikely to shift in its 300-year old position on Gibraltar and that it was important to seek ways of managing the situation through diplomacy so that tensions did not escalate. He said Britain now had a “pretty slick” process of responding to Spanish incursions and said that in the more serious cases, people should not underestimate the impact of calling in the Spanish ambassador, as has happened several times over the past year.