Gibraltar Squadron rewarded for constantly guarding the Rock's waters

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

The boats of the Gibraltar Squadron can now hoist the Fleet Efficiency Flag - a small blue and white pennant - on their RIBs and HM Ships Sabre and Scimitar as they zip around the waters of the Rock.

Two dozen sailors and Royal Marines operate some of the smallest vessels in the Royal Navy's inventory - which are also the most effective.

The squadron ended 2016 as the second most effective inshore patrol unit in the RN (up against 1st Patrol Boat Squadron and its P2000s which give university students a taste of life in the Senior Service, and the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron who safeguard warships and submarines in and around Clyde Naval Base).

In 2017, the Gib Squadron - which is located in modern facilities housed in the shell of an historic dockyard shed just a few yards from the iconic Tower naval base headquarters - went one better.

Effectiveness trophies are awarded annual across the Fleet, depending on the size or class.

As well as the pennants, there's a trophy to put on the mantelpiece - the first time since 2014 the GIb Squadron HQ has been so decorated.

The craft were on patrol in Gibraltar's territorial waters for around 1,500 hours - just shy of nine whole weeks - last year, 90 per cent of the time either demonstrating UK sovereignty or responding to illegal incursions of British waters by Spanish warships.

The remaining ten per cent of the time was devoured providing force protection, an iron shield around British warships such as HMS Ocean or Duncan, calling in at or departing from the Rock.

In addition, there were also rare opportunities to strike out for foreign waters, taking the boats to Portimão in Portugal - a near 400-mile round-trip for boats whose domain is little more than a few square miles - and across to Tangier in Morocco for Remembrance Day services.

"Finishing 2016 as runners up was exciting enough, but nothing compares to winning the trophy in 2017," said Lt Cdr James Myhill, the squadron's CO.

"I am incredibly proud of the small band of sailors and Royal Marines that I have the privilege to command and thank them for their hard work and commitment that have justifiably been rewarded by winning the Effectiveness Trophy."

In the middle of a busy operational programme, the squadron somehow found time to raise £1,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity by battling through a 6.8 nautical mile swim around the Rock.

Finishing 2016 as runners up was exciting enough, but nothing compares to winning the trophy in 2017

Lt Cdr James Myhill