The Royal Navy Scimitar-class fast patrol boat, HMS Sabre, was forced to fire the flares over the Spanish research vessel Angeles Alvarino after it entered the territorial waters of Gibraltar without authorisation and then failed to respond to radio calls. The incursion occurred yesterday after midday and once the flares were fired the Spanish vessel left Gibraltar’s waters without further incident.
The Ministry of Defence issued a statement saying;
The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters. We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish government.
This was the second time in three days that the Angeles Alvarino had entered Gibraltar’s waters without permission. The Angeles Alvarino, whose mission on behalf of the Spanish government is to conduct geological research of the seabed, is a frequent intruder in Gibraltar’s waters and as such the Royal Navy’s fast patrol boats are quite familiar with it. Last year a Royal Navy RHIB was damaged when it struck a survey probe dropped by the vessel.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was quoted in The Telegraph as saying;
I congratulate the Royal Navy for the work they have undertaken so far in very challenging circumstances in light of the reckless disregard for safety displayed by the official Spanish vessels involved. Diplomatic and political action must now support the excellent work undertaken by the navy personnel with limited resources.
Two boats carrying migrants have come ashore this morning at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus in what is effectively the first time that refugees have landed directly on what is considered British sovereign soil. Early reports indicate that 140 people were aboard two boats that made it to the base from North Africa and that another two boats are on the way.
A spokesman for the base said.
We have not established where they are from yet.
This is also the first time Cyprus has seen a considerable number of migrants arrive as they have tended to avoid the island preferring to go to mainland Europe.
Designed for remote surveillance and high-speed reconnaissance, BAE Systems has successfully tested their fully automated, unmanned boat for the first time at a location near Portsmouth Naval Base. To help navigate the unmanned vessel a series of on-board sensors help it reach its destination and includes a 360-degree panoramic infrared camera and laser rangefinder to judge distances between objects. It then navigates using pre-planned routes or by remote control via an operator on the shore or aboard a Royal Navy warship.
Fitted to modified Rigid Inflatable Boats (or RIBs) the system currently has a range of around 40km although this could increase in the future with satellite-based communication. Main contractor BAE Systems created the drone boat in collaboration with autonomous specialists ASV who provided the system and software. Les Gregory, Product and Training Services Director at BAE Systems said;
This technology delivers an extremely robust and fast-moving unmanned boat that is able to perform a number of surveillance and reconnaissance roles, even when operating at high speed or in choppy water…While other programmes are primarily designed for larger, slower boats to tackle mine counter-measure scenarios, this system provides an extremely manoeuvrable multi-role vessel…[It has] the flexibility and sophistication to operate in a number of different tactical roles whether it’s patrolling areas of interest, providing surveillance and reconnaissance ahead of manned missions or protecting larger ships in the fleet.