Thursday, 12th July 2012
RGP get more powerful sea patrol vessels
READY FOR ACTION RGP officers familiarise themselves with one of their two new interceptor launches, which will be operational by the end of the week. Pic: Johnny Bugeja
Two new purpose-built police patrol boats will be operational in British territorial waters around Gibraltar by the end of the week.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo yesterday visited crews from the Royal Gibraltar Police Marine Section as they continued with their familiarisation tasks on the vessels.
“Ordering these boats was one of the first acts we did as a government,” Mr Picardo said.
“This is about ensuring that police officers have the capability that they need to do their job and I’m delighted to see how we’ve been able to upgrade the assets that are available to the RGP.”
The plan to boost the RGP’s capabilities at sea had been agreed well before last year’s election and yesterday Mr Picardo said there was no link to recent tension at sea.
“None of what we’re seeing here is related to fishing,” he told the Chronicle.
“It’s related to all of the duties that the RGP has to discharge in our waters.”
Mr Picardo was accompanied during the visit to the Marine Section by senior RGP officers including Commissioner Eddie Yome and Superintendent Richard Mifsud.
“These are very high-powered vessels and they give us a further capability out at sea,” Mr Yome said. “They also provide more protection for our officers.”
The new vessels will play a key role in combating crime and drug trafficking in Gibraltar waters.
Both were purchased from Safe Boat, a Seattle-based company that provides vessels to the US military, navy, coastguard and enforcement agencies.
One of the vessels is an all-weather interceptor powered by four outboard engines and fitted with a fully enclosed cabin
The second vessel does not have an enclosed cockpit but has a hard canopy to protect the crew from the elements.
Both 13-metre vessels are equipped with numerous safety features – including hydraulic suspension on crew seats - and are capable of navigating at high speed in rough seas.
Strait drug trafficking up
Spain’s economic crisis has led to a surge in low-level drug trafficking across the strait of Gibraltar, according to figures released by the Guardia Civil in Ceuta this week.
Last year, Spanish officers based in the north African enclave seized a record 12 tonnes of hashish.
But in the first six months of 2012, the Guardia Civil in Ceuta has seized a staggering 13 tonnes of cannabis resin.
Most of the seizures involved people trying to board ferries bound for Algeciras.
High levels of unemployment in Spain have made it easier for criminal gangs to exploit people desperate for cash and use them as drug mules.