Royal Navy fires flares at Spanish research vessel off Gibraltar

The Royal Navy was forced to fire warning flares at a Spanish research vessel that strayed into the Territorial waters of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.

Sailors aboard the fast patrol boat HMS Sabre resorted to firing the flares after several attempts to establish communication with the research vessel failed, reports say.

Angeles Alvarino, the Spanish vessel conducting geological investigation of the seabed, left Gibraltar’s territorial waters after the flares were fired.

According to British media, the research vessel entered Gibraltar waters several times during the last week before the Sunday’s standoff.

“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,” a Royal Navy spokesman was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Back in May this year, the same Royal Navy patrol boat had to fire warning shots at a Spanish patrol vessel that was harassing a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine entering the port of Gibraltar.

USS Florida was trying to dock in Gibraltar when the Spanish vessel crossed its path two times before HMS Sabre forced it to leave.