The damage was caused by a distress signal flare. / sur

Customs patrol launch damaged by arson attack

An individual in an RHIB came very close to HMC Seeker and fired a distress signal flare at it, which caused extensive damage to the collar of the vessel

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

The Customs patrol launch HMC Seeker was the subject of an arson attack late in the evening of Wednesday 18 May, while berthed in its usual place by Custom House in Waterport.

The Royal Gibraltar Police have reported that a small RHIB occupied by an unidentified individual came very close to the Seeker and fired a distress signal flare directly towards it. The flare hit the rear starboard side, causing extensive damage to the collar as it exploded. No officers were on board at the time.

Immediately afterwards, a second flare was fired but that one missed the ship and landed on the quayside, where it exploded without causing further damage to government property or harm to the Customs Officer on duty nearby. The person who carried out the attack then sped away from the scene.

The police are asking for anyone with information that might assist the investigation to contact them or HM Customs. The incident could have been much more serious if HMC Seeker had caught fire and the blast impacted on other vessels or buildings in the area, as this could have resulted in injuries or people being killed.

The launch has been repaired and is back in operation. Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, says the government will not tolerate such attacks on the law enforcement agents at HM Customs or criminal damage to law enforcement assets, and the investigation to find the person or people responsible has the government's full support.