The small HMS Sabre speedboat was involved in a ‘serious incident’ with a research vessel in a ‘cat and mouse’ incident that began on Friday and eventually ended on Sunday afternoon.
According to an eyewitness, the Angeles Alvariño had entered British territorial waters on Friday afternoon to carry out oceanographic work.
It is claimed the ship’s captain refused to back down when sent a radio warning and HMS Sabre, a smaller Royal Navy Rhib and the research vessel were involved in a game of cat and mouse through Friday night and Saturday.
Maritime observer for British Gibraltar Open-source intelligence and Founder of OpWest and Gibraltar Coast Watchers, Michael Sanchez sent a serious of tweets outlining the incident.
At about 2pm on Sunday, he tweeted: “Serious confrontation between Spanish R/V and HMS Sabre in Bay of Gibraltar Very close quarter maneuvers”
A short time later he claimed a radio warning was sent by the British boat but that was ignored.
Eventually, HMS Sabre fired a warning flare in an effort to move the Angeles Alvariño away, it has been reported.
However, the boat allegedly refused to budge and it appears to have taken more than an hour for the incident to have settled.
The Spanish boat was then reportedly ‘chased’ from the waters with Mr Sanchez tweeting: “Royal Navy vessels return to base as Spanish research vessel withdraws to the South West away from Gibraltar waters suitably chastised”
And he told the Mirror Online: “This is not the end of this as the Spanish vessel is slated to carry out works for a week.
“This is not an isolated incident. This has happened before in 2014 and 2015.
“Apart from this there have been numerous incursions into BGTWs (British Gibraltar Territorial Waters) by Spanish warships requiring RN intervention.
“Spain does not recognize British jurisdiction over our territorial waters despite UNCLOS convention.”
One pro-Spanish Twitter user added after the incident: “Gibraltar hasn’t got any territorial waters. Shame on Royal Navy, bullying Spanish Science boat.”
A government spokesperson said: “The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW).
“We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish government.”
The Spanish government recently called for ‘the Spanish flag on Gibraltar’ after Britain decided to quit the European Union.
Despite Britain’s decision to leave – Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to Remain, with 95.9 per cent of voters backing the Remain campaign.