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Two new vessels for GDP as part of £36m MoD contract

Image: Marine Specialised Technology.

The Gibraltar Defence Police will receive two new patrol boats to be built under a £36m contract announced by the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday.

A total of 18 patrol craft will be built by Merseyside shipbuilder Marine Specialised Technology, two to be used in British Gibraltar territorial waters and the remaining 16 by the MOD Police in Royal Navy bases around the UK.

The vessels will “replace those currently in use”, the Ministry of Defence said.

“The police patrol crafts will play an important role in Defence, enhancing capability to safeguard UK and Gibraltar waters and escort major Royal Navy assets in and out of Naval bases at home and overseas,” the MoD said in a statement.

The GDP had previously taken delivery of three high-speed interceptor vessels in 2017 but the latest vessels will be purpose-built by the same company building the Gibraltar Squadron’s new patrol boats.

“The Gibraltar Defence Police procured a number of second-hand vessels in the past as an interim measure," a spokesman for the MoD told the Chronicle.

"The contract to deliver two new police patrol craft for the GDP will generate permanent replacements for these interim vessels."

"This is great news for the GDP and another example of Defence investment in British Forces Gibraltar.”

The contract comes in the wake of publication last March of the UK Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, the biggest foreign and defence policy review since the Cold War.

The UK increased defence by over £24 billion across the next four years, focusing on the ability to adapt to meet future threats.

The review said the UK would invest in military infrastructure in Gibraltar and other “strategic hubs” around the world as it adopted a proactive “deterrence posture” in the face of growing threats from hostile states and non-state actors.

“Reflected by this latest investment, the MoD Police and GDP Forces form a central role in the protection and security of defence assets and require essential equipment capabilities to fulfil this duty,” the MoD statement said.

Based in Liverpool and on the River Mersey, the contract for the new patrol boats will sustain 50 jobs and create a further 15 across the north west of England.

Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: “This £36 million investment allows our MOD Police and Gibraltar Defence Police Forces to enhance the vital security service they provide to our military bases at home and overseas.”

“Designed and constructed by maritime experts in the UK, this contract reaffirms our commitment to invest in homegrown industry knowledge and support the protection and creation of skilled jobs.”

The 15-metre vessels will be able to carry three crew members and up to four passengers, travelling at speeds of up to 30 knots.

They will be fitted with a CCTV surveillance system, two Marine Jet Power waterjets and reinforced with bullet-proof protection against incoming fire.

As highly manoeuvrable craft, they will also be used for 24/7 policing to protect defence assets and deter and detect any potential threats in all weather conditions.

MOD Police marine operations support lead, Inspector Brian McArdle, said: “The bespoke craft requirement compiled in collaboration with Defence Equipment and Support, will deliver a modern maritime craft enhancing the operational capabilities of the MOD Police.”

“The craft procurement is part of an ongoing craft replacement project ensuring the MOD Police continues to support MOD and Royal Navy to achieve operational objectives.”

“The Carrier Strike Group 21, led by the Royal Navy alongside their Dutch and US counterparts, recently visited Gibraltar as part of the deployment and was supported by the GDP who carried out escort and patrol activity.”

DE&S Boat Acquisition project manager, Joshua Brooks said: “These craft will ensure the continuity of an important capability for the MoD Police to deter and defend against threats to UK bases and overseas territories.”

“These craft will provide the MoD police with a modern, fast and effective capability for fulfilling their important role.”

“The constant waterborne patrol and policing at UK Naval Bases will include HMNB Portsmouth, HMNB Devonport and HMNB Clyde, as well as the Gibraltar Naval Dockyard.”

“Construction has already started on the design project and the first police patrol craft is expected to be delivered in July 2022.”

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