A Spanish maritime pilot from Algeciras risked endangering navigational safety yesterday by taking control of a tanker in British waters and ignoring instructions from the Gibraltar Port Authority, the Gibraltar Government said.
In a statement, No 6 Convent Place described the incident as ‘unusual’ and called on the British Government to make a formal complaint.
According to the Gibraltar Port Authority, the Algeciras pilot boat ‘Piloto’ was observed entering British waters by the Gibraltar Port Authority Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) staff, heading towards a large tanker which had just weighed anchor off the Western Arm.
The pilot boat continued towards the tanker, despite not having permission to even enter British waters, and several minutes later the pilot boarded the vessel ignoring instructions given to the master not to allow the boarding.
The Algeciras pilot then proceeded to navigate the tanker out of Gibraltar waters, finally anchoring the vessel to the north, in Spanish waters just off El Campamento.
These ‘incursions’ by the Algeciras pilots are a fairly frequent occurrence, the Gibraltar Port Authority said in a statement.
“However, in this particular instance the action, deep into the western anchorage, with no communication with the GPA, was a blatant disregard for the navigational safety of vessels in BGTW,” it added.
The Gibraltar Government immediately referred the matter to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
“The Government expects appropriate and proportionate action to be taken urgently via the appropriate diplomatic channels,” the GPA added.