A ceremony held aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) (TR) May 4 recognized the ongoing friendship between Spain and the United States with the joining of a Spanish ship to the TR Carrier Strike Group
Alvaro de Bazan (F 101), a medium-size Spanish frigate, is now officially a part of Carrier Strike Group 2.
“We are pleased and honored to welcome Alvaro de Bazan to Norfolk, Va., and into the TR strike group,” said Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2 Rear Adm. James A. Winnefeld. “This project was born in 2003 with the highest leaders of the Navy, and the Memorandum of Understanding was signed a week ago. The magnificent ship arrived here to start phase one of training.”
High-ranking officials from the Spanish navy, marine corps, air force and army attended the ceremony along with U.S. officials from Joint Forces Command, Fleet Forces Command and U.S. 2nd Fleet, as well as the under secretary of the Navy.
Both the United States and Spain have been victims of terrorism, with the 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York City and the 2004 train bombing in Spain.
“The upcoming deployment is a symbol of friendship,” said Under Secretary of the Navy Dionel M. Aviles. “Both countries have suffered terribly at the hands of terrorists. It is important we cooperate and our militaries are strong to fight the war on terror.”
“We belong to two nations whose friendship goes way back,” said Spain’s Minister of Defense Jose Bono Martinez. “The first admiral of the U.S. Navy was of Spanish origin (Adm. David Glascow Farragut), and Europe will never forget that it was the United States that saved us from totalitarianism.”
It was a Spaniard who spoke of the legalities of the seas.
“The sea belongs to no one, but everyone in human kind as whole,” said Martinez. “The sea unites us in history and today as common allies in NATO. I am so moved by the freedom promised by TR Carrier Strike Group, and now it is joined by Spain.”
Sailing with TR is not the first time Bazan has joined with the U.S. Navy. In July 2003, it took part in a combined Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials with the Aegis-class destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Bazan is the first European ship with the Aegis anti-aircraft system, making it comparable to the destroyer.
“We will treat this magnificent warship as we treat our own,” said Winnefeld. “You can rest assured we will protect the sovereignty of this national Spanish asset.”
Having Bazan and TR come together in one strike group is a way to promote interoperability between two NATO countries. Small training exercises are conducted throughout the fleet, but a six-month deployment is what will give the United States and Spain the opportunity to work together in a more real-world situation as well as learn how to overcome any communication boundaries the two navies may share.
(By Journalist 2nd Class Kimberly Stephens, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs)