Spain’s Navy buys Gibraltar-registered tugboat despite summer tensions over territorial waters

SPAIN has bought a €15 million ship registered in Gibraltar to use in its navy after denying Gibraltar its own waters for years and having a territorial claim on the British territory.

The Ocean Osprey shall be renamed the Ferrol after a major refit to use it as a tugboat at the military base in the Galician city of the same name.

Built in 2014 by shipbuilders Atlantic Offshore it has been based at both Aberdeen in Scotland and Bergen in Norway while flying the Gibraltar flag, according to the Spanish La Razon newspaper.

The Spanish navy’s Logistics Support Headquarters bought the €25 million-valued ship at a cut-price €15 million.

As the Ocean Osprey, its owners used the 66m tug to service oil platforms in the North Sea with its pulling capacity of 65 tons.

Spain’s Cabinet approved the purchase of the tug in July to tow bigger ships and logistical transportation between its naval bases.

It will have similar functions to other deep-sea tugboats like the Caribbean Sea, Mahon and Las Palmas.

The reported purchase follows this summer’s war of words over Gibraltar’s jurisdiction in the Bay of Gibraltar.

Spain holds on to a Franco-era policy of denying Gibraltar its waters because of the words of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

It even put in an exception to the UNCLOS treaty ratified by the UK and every other country in the world that laid out Gibraltar’s territorial waters.

Recently, a Spanish professor at the University of Cadiz criticised the policy.

Jesus Verdu pointed out that Spanish maps in the 19th Century had given Gibraltar its own waters, but it was only dictator General Franco who said the British territory had a ‘dry coast’.

Since his cruel rule – when he murdered over 400,000 people during over 40 years in power – Spain has also claimed Gibraltar as it own at regular United Nations meetings.

Its navy regularly passes through what the UK and Gibraltar consider its territorial waters, often being shepherded out by much smaller Royal Navy launches.

Despite this, Gibraltar’s ship registry business has continued to grow, now numbering over 200 merchant ships and 900 yachts.

As a Category 1 member of the Red Ensign Group any ship registered in Gibraltar is regarded as a British vessel, the Gibraltar Port Authority said on its website.


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