It was hardly the Spanish Armada.
But the sight of a naval vessel from Spain off the coast of Gibraltar on Tuesday was enough to ignite already simmering tensions with Britain over the disputed territory.
The Royal Navy ordered the ship away.
And Gibraltar’s government denounced what it called an ‘illegal incursion’.
But a spokesman for Spain’s foreign ministry said that Madrid did not recognise the waters as belonging to Gibraltar and the ship, the Infanta Cristina, had been on a routine patrol.
“An illegal incursion, no, because for us it is the utilisation of our waters,” the spokesman said.
Disputes between Gibraltar and Spain over the waters are frequent but the latest comes days after the territory of some 33,000 people took centre stage in the wrangling over Britain’s exit from the European Union, which was triggered on March 29.