Royal Navy dispatches Portsmouth-based HMS Tamar and HMS Severn to Jersey amid dispute with France
THE Royal Navy has dispatched two offshore patrol vessels based in Portsmouth to Jersey amid fears the island could be blockaded over a fishing dispute.
It comes as France accuses the UK of using red tape to restrict fishing around the island, with the French maritime minister warning that ‘retaliation measures’ could be warranted for the perceived breach of the Brexit agreement.
Cutting Jersey’s energy supply – which is predominately supplied from France – was among the measures implied by the French minister yesterday.
Now as French fishermen threaten to blockade the main port of St Helier, the government in Westminster has dispatched two offshore patrol vessels to the area.
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, both based in Portsmouth, have been sent to the waters surrounding the island.
The vessels are crewed by more than 40 sailors and equipped with heavy weapons designed to take on small craft.
This evening the prime minister spoke with senior politicians in Jersey, a self-governing region, declaring that any blockade would be ‘completely unjustified’, according to a spokesman from Downing Street.
The spokesman said: ‘The prime minister and chief minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.
‘The prime minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey. He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified. As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two offshore patrol vessels to monitor the situation.’
‘They agreed the UK and Jersey governments would continue to work closely on this issue.’
Earlier this year, four offshore patrol ships – HMS Trent, HMS Tamar, HMS Mersey, and HMS Tyne - were dispatched from Portsmouth to guard UK fishing waters amid concerns that European trawlers would encroach on UK territory.