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Gibraltar Squadron

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron
HMS Pursuer.jpg
HMS Pursuer, one of the Gibraltar Squadron's two patrol boats.
Active1985 - Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
RoleMaritime security and Force Protection
SizeOne Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), Two Patrol Boats, 3 RHIBS & 26 personnel (+ c. 34 assigned to the OPV)
Garrison/HQPJOB Gibraltar/HQ British Forces Gibraltar
WebsiteOfficial website
Lt Cdr James Young

The Gibraltar Squadron is a unit of the British Royal Navy. It is the only seagoing Royal Naval unit based in Gibraltar, attached to British Forces Gibraltar. In 2020 its two 16 m (52 ft 6 in) patrol ships HMS Scimitar and HMS Sabre were replaced by two  Archer class boats, HMS Pursuer and HMS Dasher.[1] The squadron also uses three Pacific 24 rigid-hulled inflatable boats, crewed by a team of 26 people.[2] The 2021 defence white paper indicated that henceforth, one River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Trent, would also be permanently based in Gibraltar for operations in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Guinea.[3]


The unit was established on 28 August 1985 following the withdrawal of the RAF Marine Craft Unit No. 1102.[4] The two motor launches attached to the previous unit, HMAFV Sunderland and Stirling, remained however and were subsequently renamed HM ships Hart and Cormorant respectively.[4] Both vessels remained with the squadron until May 1991 when they were replaced by the new P2000 patrol boats HM Ships Ranger and Trumpeter. These in turn remained with the squadron until 2003.[4]

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, security arrangements for the squadron were enhanced and the unit received yet another new pair of patrol boats, HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar, as well as three new RHIBs, in September 2002.[4] The unit has played host to nine URNU students each summer for a two-week acquaint, giving them experience of a front line unit.[5] In August 2011 the unit moved into its new facilities in the Old Boathouse on the Gibraltar waterfront.

The Spanish Navy and Civil Guard regularly and repeatedly enter Gibraltar territorial waters and vessels of the squadron have been dispatched to intercept them.[6] The issue of sovereignty over Gibraltar has been a matter of contention between the United Kingdom and Spain since the territory first became a British colony and latterly an overseas territory.[7][8]

In 2012, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government undertook a review of the facilities and services associated with British Forces in Gibraltar. The review, known as Project EUSTON, has established that the three service units (the Gibraltar Squadron, RAF Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Regiment) will remain whilst some facilities and services will be handed over to the civilian government.[9]

The naval dockyard at Gibraltar, used by visiting warships.
The naval dockyard at Gibraltar, used by visiting warships.

In July 2017 it was revealed that the squadron would receive two new warships which will be more "capable", "faster" and have "bigger guns", to replace HM Ships Sabre and Scimitar "within the next two years".[10] In June 2020, pending further news of the new-build vessels, HMS Dasher and HMS Pursuer, a pair of  Archer class patrol boats previously attached to the Cyprus Squadron, were transported to Gibraltar to serve as interim replacements for Sabre and Scimitar.[11] In July 2020, a contract was signed between the MoD and Merseyside-based boat builder Marine Specialised Technology for the construction and delivery of two new boats for Gibraltar. The first boat is scheduled for delivery in Q3 2021/22 and the second boat in Q1 2022/23.[12]

In April 2021, the Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Trent arrived for its permanent posting at Gibraltar.[13]

Current organisation

The current organisation of the squadron are as follows:


Since 2011 the Gibraltar Squadron has shared a headquarters and boathouse with the Marine Unit of the Gibraltar Defence Police. The boathouse accommodates the Navy's two patrol boats and three RHIBs, and the police's two patrol boats and two RHIBs.[25]

Scimitar class

The two former patrol boats of the squadron are known as Lifespan Patrol Vessels (LPVs), built by Halmatic (now BAE Systems) and which previously served in Northern Ireland. HM Ships Scimitar and Sabre, previously known as MV Grey Fox and MV Grey Wolf respectively, were drawn from service in Northern Ireland. The two boats were capable of 30 knots and were armed with two General Purpose Machine guns (GPMGs).


According to the Royal Navy, the unit's mission is to:

"To contribute to the maritime defence and security of Gibraltar and, where necessary, the prosecution of offensive maritime operations in order to allow BFG to support military ops as directed by HMG."[26]

Based in a purpose-built headquarters in Gibraltar, the Squadron is operational throughout the year in order to meet its directive from Commander British Forces Gibraltar, with particular regard to the security and integrity of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW). It is also responsible for the protection of British, NATO and allied warships passing through the Strait of Gibraltar or entering the naval base.[5] Uniquely for the Royal Navy, the Squadron is permanently assigned to the Operational Command of Commander Joint Operations.[2] The squadron is attached to the Portsmouth Flotilla and is one of several units permanently stationed overseas, including HMS Forth, HMS Medway and the units assigned to operate from HMS Jufair in Bahrain.

See also

External links


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Gibraltar Squadron -". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d "Gibraltar Squadron celebrates 25-year anniversary -". Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b "HMS Charger unit diary -". 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "BFBS - 'Fox in talks on Rock's future military basing '". Archived from the original on 2 February 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Gibraltar Squadron to receive two new warships". GBC News. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Patrol boats for the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron". Save the Royal Navy. 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  12. ^ Allison, George (24 July 2020). "Gibraltar squadron to receive two new Fast Patrol Craft". UK Defence Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Mackie, Colin (October 2020). "Royal Navy Senior Appointments, 1865–" (PDF). Colin Mackie's Website. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  15. ^ "FOI(A) regarding British Forces Gibraltar" (PDF). What do they know?. 5 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  16. ^ "QHM Gibraltar". GOV.UK. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  17. ^ Channon, Max (1 August 2019). "The Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron officially Rock!". PlymouthLive. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  18. ^ "All change at the top for Gibraltar Squadron | Royal Navy". Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  19. ^ "FOI(A) regarding Forces overseas" (PDF). What do they know?. 23 November 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  20. ^ "HMS Trent (P224) | Royal Navy". Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  21. ^ HMS TRENT Heads To Gibraltar For LENGTHY DEPLOYMENT 🚢⚓, retrieved 31 March 2021
  22. ^ "Defence review will forge a growing Navy with expanding horizons". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  23. ^ "HMS Dasher (P280) | Royal Navy". Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  24. ^ "HMS Pursuer (P273) | Royal Navy". Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  25. ^ Details on the Royal Navy website.
  26. ^ "Gibraltar Squadron". Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
This page was last edited on 9 May 2021, at 14:54
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