There are two new, temporary guardians of the Rock: P2000s HMS Pursuer and Dasher. Over the coming weeks the patrol craft will take over from Her Majesty’s Ships Scimitar and Sabre which have been the mainstay of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron for the past 17 years.
Scimitar and Sabre are being replaced after nearly 30 years’ service – they spent a decade in Northern Ireland before being transferred to Gibraltar in 2003 – under the wide-ranging programme to upgrade the RN’s small boat flotilla, which has already seen HMS Magpie and new work boats at HMS Raleigh delivered.
Dasher and Pursuer are considerably larger and more complex vessels to maintain and operate than Sabre or Scimitar, so the latter’s crew can get used to the new craft (among the differences, there are cabins, mess, galley and bunks on the P2000s as well as a rarely-used enclosed bridge).
The programme to replace his veteran boats – which remain operational – is well under way, but in the meantime military transporter MV Hurst Point delivered the Archer-class vessels to the Gibraltar Squadron after the short passage from Marchwood Military Port.
Pursuer was previously attached to Glasgow and Strathclyde University Royal Navy Units, and Dasher to Bristol, although the 14 boats in the new Coastal Forces Squadron are increasingly being used for front-line training and operational duties… duties such as the regular territorial patrols performed by the Gibraltar Squadron.
In addition, the Rock-based unit provides force protection for visiting warships and occasionally pays visits to Tangier in Morocco.