Spanish warship disrupts Royal Navy Gibraltar training exercise

Military chiefs forced to suspend parachute jumps as vessel approached in latest flare-up in territorial dispute with Spain

A Spanish warship entered the waters around Gibraltar and disrupted a British forces parachute training exercise, it has emerged.

Military chiefs were forced to suspend the session while the Gibraltar Squadron’s patrol boat, HMS Sabre, shadowed the Spanish navy ship.

Warnings were issued to the Spanish vessel, which is said to have used a fake name and call sign, but it left only after radioing back that it was in Spanish waters, the Gibraltar Chronicle reported.

According to the newspaper, special forces personnel from the Royal Navy’s Submarine Parachute Assistance Group were carrying out training jumps into the sea when the vessel approached.

Tensions over the disputed territory have been rising since the construction of an artificial reef by the Gibraltar government last year, which the Spanish said interfered with fishermen. Madrid responded by imposing tighter border controls, leading to long delays at the frontier for some visitors.

Repeated incursions into Gibraltar’s waters by Spanish vessels followed, which led to the Spanish ambassador being publicly summoned to the Foreign Office on a number of occasions.

In November, a British diplomatic bag was opened and searched by Spanish Guardia Civil officers on the border with Gibraltar – an incident the Foreign Office described as a serious infringement of international diplomatic protocols.

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