By Ryan Harrison

DOMINIC Searle, editor of the Gibraltar Chronicle, blasted the Spanish government's response to the visit of the Tireless yesterday saying it was over-sensitive and hypocritical.

Speaking to the Bulletin in a telephone interview he said: “The Royal Navy has every right to be here, there's nothing wrong with it. At the negotiation table over Gibraltan sovereignty, the Spanish were happy for Britain to use the port, but now they are complaining about a routine stop.” The US nuclear submarine Albany, visited Gibraltar on July 4 where its sailors celebrated American independence, and received no objection from Spain.
Dominic said the sensitivity to yesterday's visit is due to the folklore attached to the Tireless, which is capable of firing Tomahawk missiles. “There is a Bogeyman status linked with the Tireless, after the submarine broke down four years ago and spent a year in Gibraltar. “Now I think the Spanish are being overly sensitive.” A crack in the cooling system of its reactor while on duty in the Mediterranean meant it had to stop at Gibraltar in May 2000. Environmentalists and residents demanded it be towed away after evidence emerged that it had leaked a small amount of contaminated water.

Dominic, editor of the Gibraltar Chronicle at the time of the original row, said: “What is causing problems with the Spanish is that the US and UK can turn up when they like. The British know they'll get a reaction but they still have the right to be there,” he added. The Spanish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the new visit “will mark a negative point in the good relations between both governments.” However, Dominic is sure that it is just another swing in the pendulum, and once the submarine departs diplomacy will be back on track.
Gibraltarians, who are caught in the middle of the row, seem to have no problem with the presence of Tireless. With Gilbraltar being originally a fortress and with the constant presence of the military, there is no sense of threat, according to the Gibraltar Chronicle editor. “People here are used to such military activity,” Dominic said yesterday.
He added: “With the British here we actually have some security, whereas if Britain decided to withdraw from Gibraltar I think we wouldn't feel as safe.”


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