HMS Sabre (P285)

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Gibraltar Based Patrol Boat HMS Sabre MOD 45153356.jpg
HMS Sabre off Gibraltar in 2011
United Kingdom
NameLPV Grey Wolf
OperatorRoyal Marines
BuilderVT Halmatic, Southampton
CommissionedJanuary 1993
Out of serviceSeptember 2002
HomeportLough Neagh, Northern Ireland
FateTransferred to Royal Navy
United Kingdom
NameHMS Sabre
OperatorRoyal Navy
AcquiredSeptember 2002
Commissioned31 January 2003
StatusIn active service
General characteristics
Class and type Scimitar-class patrol vessel
Displacement24 t (24 long tons)
Length16 m (52 ft 6 in)
Beam3.1 m (10 ft 2 in)
Draught1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)
Propulsion2 × MAN 2480LXE diesels, 2 shafts
Speed32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range260 nmi (480 km; 300 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Complement5 (1 officer, 4 ratings)
Sensors and
processing systems
Racal-Decca Bridgemaster 360, I band navigation radar
Armament2 × General purpose machine guns (stern-mounted)

HMS Sabre is a Scimitar-class fast patrol boat of the British Royal Navy. She was commissioned into the Gibraltar Squadron on 31 January 2003 along with her sister Scimitar, and is used for police, customs and rescue purposes.[1] The two boats allowed the two Archer-class patrol vessel of the squadron, Trumpeter and Ranger, to be reassigned to the Cyprus Squadron in April 2003 and April 2004 respectively.

Operational history

LPV Grey Wolf

The vessel had previously been operated alongside her sister ship Grey Fox as part of Operation Lifespan in Northern Ireland since 1993 as LPV (Lough Patrol Vessel) Grey Wolf[2][3] both vessels were based in their own special dock at Massereene barracks with access to 6 Mile Water in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland where she was commanded and manned by a crew of seven Royal Marines and two Royal Navy personnel conducting maritime counter terrorism, surveillance, intelligence and anti-smuggling operations. The crew included a four-man team of Royal Marines to conduct boarding and ground operations the vessels would normally tow a 22 ft (6.7 m) Arctic rigid inflatable boat (RIB) used to deploy this team.[4]

HMS Sabre

On 10 April 2009 a vessel from Spain's Civil Guard Police force entered Gibraltar territorial waters unannounced and approached the area near Gibraltar's airport.[5] HMS Sabre approached, and there was no response from the Spanish vessel. It was warned to leave the territorial waters, and after consulting with its superiors it did so. However, accounts vary between the Royal Navy and the Spanish versions. The Royal Navy states that its guns were loaded at the time, however the Spanish accounts state that the guns were specifically pointed at the Spanish vessel. In addition, Spanish MP Jose Ignacio Landaluce from the People's Party vowed to take up the issue in parliament. He said Spain "would not allow a Civil Guard vessel to be expelled from its own home".

In May 2016 Spain's Civil Guard Police force vessel Rio Cedena twice tried to cut across the path of the submarine USS Florida in Gibraltar territorial waters.[6] HMS Sabre fired warning flares to deter the Spanish vessel.[7]


In July 2017 it was revealed that the Gibraltar Squadron would receive two new warships which will be more "capable", "faster" and have "bigger guns", to replace Sabre and Scimitar "within the next two years".[8]

On 24 July 2020, an announcement was made that the promised two new warships had been ordered from Marine Specialised Technology (MST Ltd) with the first to be delivered in Q3 2021/22 and the second in Q1 2022/2023. The contract is expected to cost at least £9.9 million. The patrol vessel replacements are initially going to be armed with X3 General Purpose Machine Guns (one on the foredeck and two on the aft deck) as well as being fitted for but not with a 0.50 cal Heavy Machine Gun. The ships are going to be 19 m (62 ft) long, carry six crew and six passengers and travel at 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph).[9]

In September 2020 Sabre, along with her sister ship Scimitar, returned to Portsmouth aboard MV Anvil Point having been replaced temporarily by HMS Dasher and HMS Pursuer before their long-term replacements arrive.[10]


  1. "Gibraltar Squadron - Introduction and History". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 14 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  2. "HMS Sabre". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 10 November 2008. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  3. Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. Gives the former name of HMS Sabre as HMS Grey Fox, in contradiction to the MOD website which says that MV Grey Fox was the former name of HMS Scimitar.
  4. "The sharp side of the Rock". Navy News. Royal Navy. April 2007. p. 12. Retrieved 23 November 2008.
  5. "Navy confronts Spain near Gibraltar". 21 April 2009. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  6. "Royal Navy Boat Warns Off Spanish Vessel with Flares". The Maritime Executive. 5 May 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  7. Farmer, Ben (5 May 2016). "Royal Navy fires warning shots as Spanish vessel harasses US sub in Gibraltar". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  8. "Gibraltar Squadron to receive two new warships". Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  9. "RN Gibraltar Squadron Being Replaced". Seawaves Magazine. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  10. "HMS Sabre and Scimitar depart British Gibraltar Territorial Waters for the final time". Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation. 25 September 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2021.

External links