- Spanish send small naval vessel / police boat / fishing vessel into British Gibraltar territorial waters.
- Gibraltar authorities issue polite warning to leave.
- Spanish either ignore request or make some obviously insupportable claim about entitlement to operate in “their waters”.
- Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron or Royal Gibraltar Police boat despatched to remove them.
- Spanish vessel either moves away or remains, sometimes acting dangerously, putting lives and vessels at risk.
- Population of Gibraltar is furious and the Governor contacts UK Foreign Office in London.
- Foreign Office summons the Spanish Ambassador in London and gives him a ‘formal letter of protest’.
- Spanish Ambassador politely receives the formal letter of protest, goes home and puts it straight in his shredder.
- Daily Mail / Daily Express prints outraged (but inaccurate) article about the incident.
- Someone says “we need to send more Royal Navy warships to Gibraltar”.
- Everyone remembers there are no spare Royal Navy warships to send to Gibraltar.
- 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.
- Incursions continue but UK Foreign Office refuses to do anything more about it, not wanting to offend our “key EU and NATO allies”.
- Spain (NATO member) provides refuelling facilities for Russian warships in its own “colonial territory” of Ceuta, adjacent to Morocco.
- Major Royal Navy vessel arrives Gibraltar for a few days while in transit to or from Gulf deployment, people in Gibraltar cheer up slightly.
- Unpleasant Spanish nationalist types make abusive comments about the English on social media and in Spanish press.
- Major Royal Navy vessel departs. People in Gibraltar feel vulnerable.
Whole pantomime repeats again.
Photo courtesy of: Michael J Sanchez
- Gibraltar and the Royal Navy (Save the Royal Navy)
- Britain’s fury as Spanish police boats repeatedly trespass in Gibraltar waters (Daily Express)
- Navy lives at risk in clash off Gibraltar (The Times – Pay wall)
- Spain ‘violated’ Gibraltar’s waters (bbc.co.uk)