GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle/Brian Reyes) A suspicious speedboat of a type banned in Gibraltar was towed from British waters by Spanish customs following a tense face-off with the Royal Gibraltar Police on Wednesday. This was the first significant incursion in many months and involved a crew from the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera [SVA] exercising jurisdiction in Gibraltar waters. Chief Minister Fabian Picardo last night described the incident as “totally unacceptable” and Britain confirmed that it would lodge a formal protest with the Spanish government. The incursion began on Wednesday evening when an SVA vessel was seen carrying out checks on a recreational boat around 250 metres from Europa Point.>>>
An RGP speedboat approached and asked the SVA crew to leave.
According to several sources in Gibraltar, two large rigid-hull inflatable boats [RHIBs] were then seen entering British waters and both the SVA and the RGP vessels gave chase.
The suspect RHIBs were empty of cargo but were of the sort commonly used by smugglers. Vessels of this type are prohibited in British waters.
The RGP and the SVA crews stopped one of the RHIBs in British waters and a standoff ensued.
The incident was witnessed by several people on land, including one who asked on Twitter if anyone knew what was happening. One eyewitness placed the boats between one of the large bunker storage tankers and the shoreline.
It is not clear what happened during the standoff but the outcome was that the SVA towed the RHIB to Algeciras, despite the protestations of the RGP officers. (Read the full story in The Gibraltar Chronicle online)