Royal Navy gunboats deployed to protect fishing waters

Four Royal Navy warships were deployed to the English Channel hours before the new Brexit deal came into effect according to a new report from The Sun.

The mission was led by the £100m vessel HMS Trent, with HMS Mersey, HMS Tyne, and HMS Tamar joining the convoy which departed Portsmouth on December 31.

It had previously been reported on this site that a plan was being drawn up to deploy the gunboats in a No Deal scenario. But the plan has now been carried out following the successful negotiation of a deal, which saw Britain quit the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

The vessels are on fishery protection duties, as the UK regains control of its territorial fishing waters and begins to claw back quota over the next five and a half years.

The Navy boats are fully equipped, boasting cannons and machine guns, and are well prepared to carry out their duty and see off illegal fishermen.

According to a defence source quoted by the Sun, the decision to deploy all four ships on the first day of full independence was intended as “a show of resolve”, with future plans requiring two ships at sea and two at port.

The comments of the insider aligned with the thinking of the former First Sea Lord, Baron Alan West, who called the deployment “an act of deterrence.”

Baron West made similarly strong remarks when the plan was first leaked, saying then that “you have to be robust” and warning that “Europe is not going to prosecute its own fishing boats.”

The show of force will signal to many that the government is serious about policing the new settlement with the EU, but may do little to placate frustration over the terms of the deal.

Many, including fishing community leaders and leading Brexiteers, had hoped for a more significant reduction in the EU’s allocated catch. The new transition period will last until 2026 and will see the UK claw back just a quarter of the EU’s quota, after which time quotas will be negotiated on an annual basis.