Dasher and Pursuer take over in Gib as £10m is spent on new boats for the Rock

Her Majesty’s Ships Dasher and Pursuer are the new guardians of the Rock, assuming responsibility for safeguarding its waters.

The P2000 patrol boats take over as the backbone of the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron from today – as the MOD announces a £10m investment in two new fast craft for the waters around the British territory.

The crews of Dasher and Pursuer have spent the past five weeks learning how to handle, operate and maintain the Archer-class craft, which are far larger and more complex than HMS Sabre and Scimitar which have protected Gib’s waters for the past 17 years.

The latter are earmarked for replacement (they spent a decade in Northern Ireland before being transferred to the Med), with the two P2000s plugging the gap until the new boats arrive.

Those will come, Whitehall announced today, in the winter/spring of 2021-22 after it placed a £9.9m order with Merseyside-based Marine Specialised Technology.

For that the RN will not merely get two 19-metre boats – capable of speeds up to 40kts and armed with three machine-guns, carrying a crew of six plus up to half a dozen passengers – but four years of support on the Rock as well.

We are suitably equipped to counter the challenges of the local environmental conditions and the added size of the craft offers an increase to our physical presence on the water. We are very proud to welcome the two units to the Squadron as an interim replacement until the newly-designed craft arrive.

Lt Cdr Cardy

That’s for the future. For now, the right of the line is held by Dasher and Pursuer, which previously served Bristol and Glasgow universities, giving students a flavour of life in the Royal Navy, as well as supporting front-line training and operations.

They offer much more than their predecessors: the ability to sail in worse seas, improved quarters (heads, shower, galley, mess) and can range further if required; Sabre and Scimitar rarely left Gib waters and if they did, it was normally to visit Tangier, just 35 miles away across the Strait.

Lieutenant Vyrnwy Rainbird and her team on Pursuer have shown Lt James Young and his crew the ropes on Pursuer, and Lt Cameron Walters did the same for the Gibraltar Squadron CO Lt Cdr Lloyd Cardy and his crew on Dasher.

“The arrival of the two P2000s to the Squadron is of great benefit to our personnel and the mission,” Lt Cdr Cardy said.

“We are suitably equipped to counter the challenges of the local environmental conditions and the added size of the craft offers an increase to our physical presence on the water.  We are very proud to welcome the two units to the Squadron as an interim replacement until the newly-designed craft arrive.”

As for Scimitar and Sabre, no longer operational they are being returned to the UK for the first time since 2003.