23 Mar, 2024 @ 12:00
2 mins read

Gibraltar welcomes Royal Navy’s huge ocean mapper vessel amid simmering tensions as Brexit negotiations continue and Spain deports four British marines

THE latest Royal Navy vessel Gibraltar has welcomed to its naval base is not the usual death-dealing warship whose presence irritates the Spanish authorities.

HMS Scott is the navy’s sole ocean survey vessel, armed not with cannons and missiles but the advanced High Resolution Multi Beam Sonar System (HRMBSS).

This piece of kit allows it to collect incredibly detailed depth information across a vast swathe of the seabed several kilometres wide.

Since she was commissioned in June 1997, she is estimated to have charted a staggering 3.7% of the world’s oceans. 

HMS Scott is the largest survey vessel in Western Europe, and, at 13,500 tonnes and 131 metres, it is the fifth largest vessel in the Royal Navy. 

HMS Scott during a routine stop over at HM Naval Base in Gibraltar

Named for the famous Arctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, she also has an auxiliary role as a mine countermeasures vessel.

With a crew of 78 divided into three sections, HMS Scott can remain at sea for an extended period – up to 300 days a year – thanks to a crew rotation system. 

When one section is on leave or in training, the other two sections keep the ship operational, allowing for near-immediate redeployment once it returns to port.

She docked on Sunday for a routine logistical visit to the Rock where she will conduct two watch handovers and prepare for her next ocean-mapping mission.

Her arrival in Gibraltar comes as four British Royal Navy marines were deported from La Linea after they were tracked down and returned to the Rock.

The group, including a captain and a corporal, were removed by Spanish authorities for not meeting entry requirements to the country set out by the Schengen borders code. 

They had been staying in a well known four star hotel in La Linea, where they were put up by the Royal Navy. 

The hotel was just 100 metres from the border separating Spain and Gibraltar. 

Images show HMS Scott alongside during a routine stop over at HM Naval Base in Gibraltar.

According to Europa Sur, they had arrived a few hours before at the Rock’s airport on a civilian flight. 

Reportedly, they came to Gibraltar to participate in Royal Navy drills due to take place this week in the Gibraltar strait. 

After landing, the group made their way to their hotel on the Spanish side of the border. 

It wasn’t long before Spanish authorities caught up with their ‘irregular’ arrival and located the group, sending them back to Gibraltar. 

British citizens wishing to enter Spain must identify themselves with their passports and although they do not have to apply for a visa, they must comply with Schengen rules. 

The groups’ return to Gibraltar comes as politicians debate relations between the EU and Gibraltar after Brexit. 

The talks have been going on for years without reaching a conclusion but upcoming EU elections have brought fresh hope. 

The President of the Foreign Commission and Mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, is also set to question the Spanish government over the incident. 

He says many questions ‘still need to be answered’ including why the group was able to enter Spain in the first place if they did not meet Schengen requirements. 

Landaluce also said: “Why is that everytime Spain and Britain are negotiating Brexit…some sort of incident happens with the Royal Navy?”

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Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]
@waltfinc

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