Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Madrid ‘informed’ of HMS Trenchant visit

• PP Protest at mancomunidad

HMS Turbulent S87 'Trafalgar' class nuclear powered submarine, the same class as HMS Trenchant who docked in Gibraltar this weekend causing a storm of protests from Spanish ecologist groups, approaching Gibraltar from the western mediterranean
A Royal Navy submarine, HMS Trenchant, arrived in Gibraltar on Saturday for a routine visit for a few days after taking part in an exercise in the North Atlantic.

But the PP in the Mancomunidad de Municipios expressed its “unease” at the arrival of the submarine on the Rock.

In a statement, the party said that the development pointed to flaws in the tripartite forum and condemned Juan Montedeoca, the socialist president of the Mancomunidad.

“It is lamentable that this should happen at a time when they are talking about excellent relations with Caruana,” said Alejandro Sanchez, the party spokesman.

He said he could not understand why senior PSOE politicians in the region were silent “when they have made a lot of noise” over previous visits.

“The PP intends to present a motion to the next session of the Mancomunidad calling for an end to the presence of nuclear submarines in Gibraltar."

Meanwhile according to Europa Press, UK had informed Spain about the presence in Gibraltar of the nuclear submarine on a routine visit. Quoting a spokesman at the Spanish Foreign Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE), it said that Madrid had been informed “through the habitual channels.”

The visit has been criticised by Campo environmentalist groups such as Verdemar.

According to other press reports, last month the Spanish Government said it was still waiting for Britain to express in writing “a commitment London had made four years ago to end visits by British nuclear submarines to Gibraltar”, although “Madrid had recognised that the territory’s interior waters were ceded by Spain to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.”

Madrid expressed the hope that Britain, as an EU ally, would seek “to guarantee the security of the people who live in the area.”

In May 2001, the then Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique said his British counterpart Robin Cook had told him nuclear repairs to British submarines in Gibraltar would cease.

However there have been several such visits since, including last February by HMS Sceptre for maintenance, an arrival that drew a formal protest from Madrid and a complaint from Gibraltar, whose authorities said they were “not told in advance of the visit.”

Britain says Gibraltar provides an important support facility for maintenance and several other submarines have docked there in recent years.

HMS Trenchant is a Trafalgar class nuclear propelled submarine built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering in Barrow-in-Furness. It was launched on 3 Nov 1986 and commissioned on 14 Jan 1989. The submarine was previously in Gibraltar last year.


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