The Spanish Civil Guard patrol boat (Rio Tomes), came close to the heavily armed warship – HMS Somerset and the incredibly fast patrol boat- HMS Sabre, on the evening of June 1st. The two Royal Navy boats carry out anti-terror activities on frequent basis, in an area, where usually there is a code red for possible terrorist attacks. Britain made a complaint at an official level to Spain, following the recent confrontation between the two countries around Gibraltar.
Due to the fading light, the 52ft Rio Tomes failed to spot the patrol vessel’s red, white, blue and yellow markings. Hence, Rio Tomes’ crew refused to identify themselves despite the repeated “requests” from the British Ships.
The Rio Tomes is usually deployed to stop illegal immigrants and drug smugglers from entering Spain, through North Africa. The British officials were furious when they learned about the recklessness of the Spanish ship and said that Rio Tomes was at the risk of being blown out of the water.
A reliable Navy Source told the “Gibraltar Chronicle” that racing towards an armed warship is a sign of madness, and moreover, it shows signs of irresponsibility and an incredible amount of risk. Spain has always refused to recognize the waters outside Gibraltar’s 3 mile port, as part of the British property, and has tried to reclaim them on repetitive basis.
Back in November 2009 – the Spanish police chased a group of suspect smugglers into the waters and made attempts to arrest them. The Gibraltar Police arrested the smugglers and detained the Spanish police officers.
Later on, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba made an apology to the British and Gibraltarian officials upon which the detained officers were released.