< Back

20th February 2024, 15:50

British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey in Gibraltar to visit HMS Diamond

Published by GBC News

The British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey is in Gibraltar.

He flew in to the Gibraltar airport at approximately 1415 on Tuesday.

It was an unannounced visit and - so far - GBC has been denied media access. He's paid a visit to HMS Diamond.

The British war ship is currently in Gibraltar waters, having shot down a Houthi drone targeting the vessel in the Red Sea last month.

Visit kept under wraps

GBC caught wind that there may be a high profile visit. But the U.K. government kept it completely under wraps. There was no advance warning. And even when here, no comment on what the Armed Forces Minister has been up to.

What do we know? He arrived at approximately 14:15 at the Gibraltar Airport and was met there by the Commander British Forces Gibraltar.

For the CBF, Commodore Tom Guy, the visit by the Armed Forces Minister will no doubt be another strong demonstration of British Sovereignty.

Especially as it coincides with the visit by HMS Diamond, which is in a period of maintenance and re-supply.

HMS Richmond has replaced her in the international task force trying to protect merchant shipping in the Red Sea in light of an increase in Houthi attacks against commercial vessels.

HMS Diamond & the Red Sea

James Heappey visited HMS diamond on Tuesday afternoon. He will have thanked them for their role in the Red Sea.

A storm is building there and elsewhere on the oceans after decades of calm.

The Black Sea, with Russia at war with Ukraine. The Baltic and North seas. The waters between China & Taiwan.

According to The Economist newspaper, about 80% of global trade by volume travels on a fleet of 105,000 container ships, tankers and freight vessels that traipse across the oceans day and night.

And that trade needs protection.

A good talking point for the Armed Forces Minister. He will have discussed Gibraltar’s role in helping Britain to play its part in policing the seas in order to maintain maritime order and keep the world economy afloat.

Overnight stay at The Convent

We believe Mr Heappey was a guest of the Governor on Tuesday night. Our cameraman spotted him arrive in the evening, using the side entrance to drop off his bags before heading out again for dinner - we think with the Commander British Forces Gibraltar, Tom Guy. Elsewhere in Gibraltar. We don’t know where.

Mr Heappey spent the night at the Convent. Presumably he had a chance to talk to the Governor, Sir David Steel, the Sovereign's representative in Gibraltar. The Chronicle newspaper reported Mr Heappey may have met with the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, before flying out.

That’s what GBC has been able to piece together. The Ministry of Defence have not made a statement yet but when they do, we’ll tell you more.