Battle of Trafalgar class submarines!

It's the Battle of Trafalgar class submarines, as Spain start throwing what they can at the idea of nuclear submarines calling at Gibraltar even if the Gibraltar population is quite relaxed about such visits.

Mention that a nuclear submarine is coming to Gibraltar and the Spaniards declare war! However, they do not act likewise when nuclear-powered ships call at Spanish ports, like the giant US carrier Theodore Roosevelt which called at Palma de Majorca last month. This carrier has not one, but two nuclear reactors!

A reader recently sent us a First Day cover issued by the US to mark the first nuclear submarine visit to Rota - this was 40 years ago!

Now, the news leaked out that a nuclear-powered submarine would be visiting the Rock as part of the Battle of Trafalgar celebrations. Every Tom, Dick and Enrique in the Spanish neighbourhood tried to stir it up.

What was unusual was the Commander British Forces reacting to what a Spanish politician might say. This must be the first time since the Battle of Trafalgar that this has happened.

The written statement from the CBF said: "A prominent politician in the Campo de Gibraltar has suggested that a British nuclear submarine will arrive in Gibraltar on 28 October. The MoD wishes to confirm that no submarine visits to Gibraltar are envisaged to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar."

Since similar statement were expressed by the British Embassy in Madrid it is clear that such a statement was issued on instructions from London.

But was a nuclear submarine due to visit Gibraltar on 28 October? Of course, it was.

On 10 October at 3.33pm, the Command British Forces circulated what it termed 'Media plan for Trafalgar 200 Events 14-30 Oct 05'.

Item number 6 on the list referred to 'Visit SSN/Ships' on the date in question. Under the remarks column it added: "Opportunity to show Gibraltarian and Spanish press inside SSN."

An "SSN" is the nomenclature for a nuclear-powered attack submarine.

You may ask: How is it that the Spanish media get to know about submarine visits to Gibraltar.

The answer: The CBF tells them!

In fact, their press releases go to something like 25 recipients, including Spanish media, so half the world gets to know. They make no distinction between Gibraltar/UK media and Spanish media.

We have made reference to the Media Plan, as it is already common knowledge north of the border.

But why all the Spanish sensitivity about celebrations here? On the same day the submarine was due, a Royal Navy frigate will be taking part in celebrations in Spain, headed by the Spanish defence minister Jose Bono...