A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that the Royal Navy took "proportionate responses" after a Spanish vessel allegedly entered British waters off the coast of Gibraltar:
The Ramon Margalef, a Spanish State oceanographic survey ship, entered British Gibraltar Territorial Waters on the evening of Monday 18 November and unlawfully conducted survey operations for 22 hours in violation of United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The RN Gibraltar Squadron's Fast Patrol Boats HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar, in accordance with UNCLOS, challenged the Ramon Margalef's presence by issuing appropriate warnings and preventing the deployment of the Ramon Margalef's oceanographic surveying probe.
There was no damage to any Royal Navy or Spanish equipment or vessels and no injuries were incurred.
The actions of the Royal Navy were fully in accordance with Her Majesty's Government's commitment to uphold the sovereignty of Gibraltar with a range of proportionate responses.
An MP raised the issue of the alleged incursion by a Spanish vessel into British waters in a Westminster Hall debate earlier today, describing it as "a very serious incident".
Labour MP Jim Dobbin asked: "Is a minister from the Foreign Office coming to make a statement on what is a very, very serious incident?"
Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle replied: "I've been given no notification of a statement to be made but I'm sure the Foreign Office is listening very carefully to what you've just said on such a serious incident."
The Foreign Office has summoned Spain's ambassador to the UK over concerns regarding an "ongoing incuresion" by a Spanish vessel into Gibraltar waters.
The Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said:
Despite repeated diplomatic protests to Spain in relation to incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters in recent months, a Spanish State research vessel, the RV Ramon Margalef, undertook significant surveying activity in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters on 18 and 19 November for over 20 hours. When challenged by radio, the vessel responded that it was conducting survey work with the permission of the Spanish authorities and in the interests of the European Community ...
I strongly condemn this provocative incursion and urge the Spanish government to ensure that it is not repeated. We stand ready to do whatever is required to protect Gibraltar’s sovereignty, economy and security.