Spain Protests to UK over Interception of Warship in October
The Spanish Foreign Ministry has protested to the United Kingdom over the incident in early October near Gibraltar, when the British ship Cutlass intercepted the Spanish navy ship Isla de León. This was reported by Vozpopuli.
This refers to an incident that took place on 3 October, when British ships intercepted a Spanish vessel during manoeuvres near Gibraltar. Then the British patrol ship HMS Cutlass, which was taking part in naval exercises, intercepted the Spanish vessel Isla de León, which was moving in the waters around Gibraltar.
Although incidents between British and Spanish ships in the area are frequent, in this case "the level of alertness was marked by the military nature of both vessels," the newspaper notes.
As noted, the Spanish government has not publicly commented on the incident, but the Spanish Foreign Ministry's response to a request from right-wing People's Party MP Pablo Hispan revealed that the department had lodged a protest with the British side.
The note of protest states that the military manoeuvres and the "harassment of the Spanish patrol vessel" constitute a "violation of the right of innocent passage" of vessels, as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, "as both actions took place in Spanish territorial waters".
In the summer of 2021, the conflict between Spain and the UK was triggered by the visit of the British nuclear submarine HMS Artful to Gibraltar.
The submarine was carrying not only Spearfish heavy torpedoes but also Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, with a total of 38 such weapons on board.
HMS Artful came to a short-term berth at the British naval base in Gibraltar. However, the Spanish Coast Guard, based in the port of Ceuta, tried to prevent the nuclear submarine from entering Gibraltar. In essence, one NATO member state was trying to prevent the passage of a ship belonging to another NATO member.
The Spanish coastguard has been attempting to prevent nuclear submarines from the UK and other NATO allies from entering Gibraltar since April 2017, after Brexit.