The unit has a broad role at the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. It is a busy squadron and the routine business of protecting British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) only scratches the surface.
This is a complex balance of presence and restraint that tests the squadron on a daily basis. Two fast patrol boats, HMS Scimitar and Sabre, provide the Royal Navy’s White Ensign presence while three Pacific fast inflatable boats provide quick response from the Rock.
Lieutenant Thomas Knott, commanding officer of Scimitar and senior officer at the squadron, said:
“Royal Navy ships call into Gibraltar regularly and often need support in addition to the force protection the squadron regularly provides.
“For instance, HMS Sutherland, ‘day running’ from Gibraltar, called upon our support for transfer of crew and visiting staff which gave Able Seaman (Sea) Kurtis Lyth from HMS Scimitar the chance to capture the moment Sutherland departed the bay.
“Other activity this summer included providing water safety support to Exercise Gibsplash 12.
“That involved clearing the Drop Zone for the Submarine Parachute Assistance Group (SPAG) and their Italian counterparts.
“Once down it’s the responsibility of the squadron inflatable boats, known as Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS), to skilfully pluck the parachutists from the rolling sea of Gibraltar Bay.”
The squadron features boat coxswains who are trained to carry out delicate transfers for submarines if required. They are joined in the diverse squadron by Royal Navy Reservists with full time seaman specialists, marine engineers and mine clearance divers providing 365 days per year response.
Lt Knott said:
“The Rhib crews conduct daily patrols of territorial waters keeping their skills sharp in a physically demanding but professionally satisfying job.
“This operational role offers us the chance to serve overseas in a location steeped in naval history.”
Naval Today Staff, August 8, 2012; Image: Royal Navy