Portsmouth navy boat chases off Spanish warship near Gibraltar

ONE of the Royal Navy’s smallest vessels forced a Spanish warship out of Gibraltan waters in the second such incident in two months.

HMS Scimitar intercepted the Infanata Elena on Tuesday and despite the Spanish ship dwarfing the Portsmouth-based vessel, it was shooed away from the disputed territory.

The incursion is the latest in a string of incidents by the Spanish in the region. The last took place in September when a Royal Navy rigid-hulled inflatable boat chased off a Spanish Guardia Civil boat.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that a Spanish Navy vessel incurred in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters on November 7.

‘The Royal Navy challenges all maritime incursions in BGTW and did so again on this occasion.

‘We will be protesting to the Spanish authorities.’

HMS Scimitar is one of two Scimitar-class boats based in Portsmouth. The other is HMS Sabre.

The 16m-long vessel displaces 26 tonnes and is armed with machine guns.

It’s the second-smallest class of vessel in the fleet, with only the Island-class patrol boats, HMS Rona and HMS Mull being any smaller.

In contrast, the Spanish corvette, Infanata Elena, weighs in at 1,510 tonnes and is almost 89m long.

She is armed with four Harpoon missiles, machine guns and a 76mm main gun.

In April this year, British vessels were forced to chase of Spanish navy ships on three separate occasions.

Scimitar was involved in two of these incidents.

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