The past and the future on display in Spain

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Location(s): Ferrol, Spain

HMAS Anzac and SPS Almirante Juan de Borbon, of the Spanish Navy, conduct officer of the watch manoeuvres off the coast of Ferrol, Spain. (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
HMAS Anzac and SPS Almirante Juan de Borbon, of the Spanish Navy, conduct officer of the watch manoeuvres off the coast of Ferrol, Spain.

A warm welcome was received by the crew of HMAS Anzac last week when they visited the naval port of Ferrol, in Spain’s Galicia region for a port visit during their NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment. 

Ferrol is one of the major bases of the Spanish Armada, and home to Navantia, the Spanish ship builder where Australia’s new Canberra class amphibious assault ships were built, and the forthcoming Hobart class destroyers were designed. 

The home port of the Armada’s F100 frigates (upon which the Australian destoyers are based), Ferrol has been a naval base for centuries, and was in fact the port from which the Spanish Armada set out for the Battle of Trafalgar. 

The Galicia region is historically significant for many ancient structures, including the 1900 year old ‘Tower of Hercules’ lighthouse in nearby A Coruña, the world’s oldest Roman lighthouse still in use. 

Anzac’s Weapons Electrical Engineer Officer, Lieutenant Commander Luke van Aaken, welcomed the visit to Spain – Anzac’s last European port in her deployment. 

“The navy-to-navy relationship between Australia and Spain has become increasingly close in recent years, with the Australian Navy’s two newest platforms being Spanish designed. 

“Spain has a rich naval heritage, and their modern warships are world class. 

“The crew was able to learn a lot about Spain and the Armada during our short visit, with a visit to one of the F100 frigates, SPS Méndez Núñez, being a highlight for many. 

“There was a great sense of excitement amongst those that visited the Méndez Núñez as the ship showcases a major capability to be introduced in the Australian Navy in the near future,” Lieutenant 
Commander van Aaken said. 

“We were also pleased to be able to show key members of the Armada the capabilities offered by the Australian developed systems on an Anti-Ship Missile Defence system upgraded Anzac class frigate.” 

Aside from the tours of Méndez NúñezAnzac also co-hosted an official reception with the Australian Ambassador to Spain, and conducted tours for Spanish personnel. Anzac’s detachment of the Royal Australian Navy Band also provided public performances in a square in the centre of Ferrol. 

Commander José María Fuente, the Head of Studies of the Spanish Armada’s La Grana Specialist School, was the Executive Officer in SPS Álvaro de Bazán when the ship visited Sydney in 2007. 

“Who could imagine when we sailed into Sydney Harbour in 2007 in Álvaro de Bazán that the relationship between Spain and Australia would become so strong? 

“It was good to be ‘back in Australia’ during Anzac’s official reception. 

“Many of the people of Ferrol got a great first experience of Australia when they enjoyed Anzac’s Band playing in Ferrol’s Plaza de Amboaje,” Commander Fuente said. 

After sailing from Ferrol, Anzac met up with another of Spain’s F100 frigates, SPS Almirante Juan de Borbón, for a passage exercise off the Spanish coast. 

The passage exercise consisted of officer-of-the-watch manoeuvres, boat operations and helicopter operations, with Anzac’s embarked AS350BA Squirrel cross-decking onto Almirante Juan de Borbón – one of the first times that an Australian Navy helicopter has landed on a ship of this class. 

The Royal Australian Navy’s Liaison Officer embedded with the Spanish Armada’s 31 Squadron, Lieutenant Commander Tom Kenny, was keen to see the continued development of the relationship between the two navies. 

“From Anzac’s arrival right through until the passage exercises there was a lot of interaction between the countries. 

“The introduction of the new ships is an exciting journey for the Australian Navy. 

“Until now, Spain has been the provider of the platforms for our future ships, but it is exciting to consider that the Armada may in the future use some of the Australian designed technologies that they were able to see in Anzac

“Although our nations are separated by half a world, the Navy-to-Armada relationship is going from strength to strength,” Lieutenant Commander Kenny said. 

Anzac’s continuing NORTHERN TRIDENT deployment is focused on commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, building interoperability with allies and strengthening Australian links to international communities.