HMC Sentinel commissioned for duty in BGTW
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, officially commissioned the vessel HMC Sentinel for duty in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters during a ceremony at Custom House today. The vessel was presented by Acting Collector of Customs John Payas, before receiving a blessing from Monsignor Azzopardi in the presence of the Chief Minister and HE the Governor Sir David Steel.
HMC Sentinel is a DI 1503 FRP Interceptor, built to bespoke specifications by Damen, one of the leading ship builders in the world. The vessel is a custom-built prototype, the first of its kind, and is the result of a 3-year project that involved Customs officers in the full design process, including one trip to the United Kingdom, one to the Netherlands and three visits to the construction site in Antalya, Turkey.
14.5m in overall length, HMC Sentinel can carry 5 crew and 10-12 passengers. With a top speed of 62.5 knots powered by 4 Mercury Verado 400 R outboard engines, HMC Sentinel is the fastest vessel in the bay of Gibraltar. She is the largest and most capable vessel ever commissioned into service with HM Customs Gibraltar.
HMC Sentinel will be engaged in anti-smuggling interceptor duties, maritime law enforcement patrols and surveillance of BGTW, maritime law enforcement operation within BGTW, rapid response actions and supporting and assisting other law enforcement agencies in their operations.
The vessel’s hull and superstructure are composed of e-glass and carbon reinforced epoxy, whilst the interior accommodation features Ullman Atlantic Shock absorber seats, a stretcher and toilet and galley facilities to support long shifts at sea. HMC Sentinel is fitted with the latest in nautical and communication equipment, including fixed and portable searchlights, radar and GPS.
The Acting Collector of Customs, John Payas, said: ‘I am extremely proud to present HMC Sentinel, which represents a new phase in the development of HM Customs’ maritime operations in terms of capability and operability. Her high speed, enclosed cabin and robustness afford enhanced protection to our officers whilst carrying out their duties in the often volatile and challenging environment that is BGTW. Furthermore, her on board amenities allow for greater comfort affording longer patrol times and increased presence.’
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: ‘I’m delighted to commission HMC Sentinel for service. This represents a significant investment by HM Government of Gibraltar in HM Customs maritime operations, outlining Gibraltar’s long-term commitment to combatting illegal activity in BGTW. Although it is popular amongst our opponents to complain about spending, the Government will continue to invest in our public sector and in the safety and security our public servants in the right way. This is a department that has long been managed in an exemplary fashion and that has a law enforcement role in the protection of our people and a role in raising revenue for our people. It is a hugely important department in which we have invested greatly in the past ten years. When our political opponents complain about public spending beyond COVID they should realise that much of our spending has been on our people and the resources we put at their disposal. We will continue to control costs where appropriate and we will continue to spend where appropriate.’