History of Naval Station Rota (NAVSTA Rota)

Naval Station Rota (NAVSTA Rota) is a Spanish naval base opened in 1955, commanded by a Spanish Admiral, called Base Naval de Rota in Spanish, and yet fully-funded by the United States of America. Often described by the US Navy as the “Gateway to the Mediterranean,” Rota is headquarters for Commander US Naval Activities Spain (COMNAVACTSPAIN). Under the mutual defense agreement signed by the US and Spain during the Franco regime (Convenio de Defensa y Ayuda Económica Mutua), the US is responsible for maintaining the station’s infrastructure, including a 670-acre (2.7 km2) airfield, three active piers, 426 facilities and 806 family housing units.

Base Naval de Rota.

Rota is home to the Spanish Navy’s Grupo de Acción Naval 2, comprising the aircraft carrier Príncipe de Asturias (R-11), the LPDs Galicia (L-51) and Castilla (L-52), and the LST Pizarro (L-42). On its transfer to a state of “restrictive standby” (or what the rest of the world calls “decommissioning”), the Príncipe de Asturias will be replaced by the LHD Juan Carlos I (L61).

SPS Príncipe de Asturias (R-11), originally named the ‘Almirante Carrero Blanco’ after one of Franco’s fascist cronies.

SPS Galicia (L-51), lead vessel in her class of LPDs.

SPS Castilla (L-52), a Galicia-class LPD.

SPS Pizarro (L-42), formerly the Newport-class USS Harlan County (LST-1196).

SPS Juan Carlos I (L-61), Spain’s newest LHD capable of operating Harrier AV-8B and F-35B STVOL aircraft.

Rota is also home to the 41ª Escuadrilla de Escoltas, comprising the Santa Maria-class frigates Santa Maria (F-81), Victoria (F-82), Numancia (F-83), Reina Sofía (F-84), Navarra (F-85) and Canarias (F-86). The Spanish vessels are based on the US Navy’s Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates.

SPS Santa Maria (F-81), lead vessel in her class of Spanish frigates, based on the US Oliver Hazard Perry-class.

SPS Victoria (F-82), Santa Maria-class frigate.

SPS Numanica (F-83), Santa Maria-class frigate.

SPS Reina Sofia (F-84), Santa Maria class frigate.

SPS Navarra (F-85), Santa Maria class frigate.

SPS Canarias (F-86), Santa Maria-class frigate.

US tenant units based at Rota include Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company Europe (FAST Co. Europe), US Naval Hospital Rota, Naval Special Warfare Unit 10 and 725th Air Mobility Squadron.

The strategic location of the base allows it to provide excellent support to US Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean and to US Air Force Air Mobility Command units. It is the only base in the Mediterranean which supports amphibious readiness group (ARG) post-deployment wash-downs. The naval station also offers pier-side maintenance and backload facilities. The base complements the ARG unit transfers, and accommodates the sailors and marines of visiting ships.

090702-N-3289E-100 ROTA, Spain (July 2, 2009) Marine Corporal Dustin Shanle Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST), Company Europe stands in front of the Naval Station Rota Spain, flagpole with company mascot Monster during the annual flag raising ceremony. While raising the flag is a daily occurrence on U.S. military bases around the world, because of the Agreement for Defense Cooperation, Naval Station Rota is only permitted to fly the U.S. flag with special permission from the Spanish Admiral-in-Chief. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Ebalo/Released)

During the Cold War, Rota was home port to Submarine Squadron 16 (SUBRON 16) and the depot ship USS Proteus (AS-19), later USS Holland (AS-32). Submarines assigned to the squadron included the USS Lafayette (SSBN-616) and USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657).

USS Proteus (AS-19), submarine tender for SUBRON 16.

USS Holland (AS-32), submarine tender for SUBRON 16.

Poseidon C-3 (UGM-73A) missile is launched from the nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine USS Lafayette (SSBN-616).

USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) during sea trials off the Atlantic coast.

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