Spain’s Navy made waves this week with the Mediterranean debut of its flagship, the Juan Carlos I, spotted off the coast of Malaga on Wednesday.
This massive multi-purpose amphibious assault ship-aircraft carrier was visible to residents of the Costa del Sol all last week.
The Spanish Navy is deploying the Dédalo-23 amphibious air-naval group throughout the first quarter of the year to improve training and to showcase Spain’s commitment to the Alliance’s defence policy.
This ship is the largest warship the country has ever seen, with capabilities for air operations, force projection, and humanitarian aid.
The Juan Carlos I was delivered to the Spanish Navy in 2010 at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, and was named after the reigning monarch, a tradition that has been upheld since the arrival of the House of Bourbon to the Spanish throne in the early 18th century.
The current deployment is to prepare for its certification so that the Juan Carlos I can take its place in the NATO Readiness Initiative in 2024.
The group is structured around the Juan Carlos I, and includes an airborne unit composed of Harrier AV8B+ aircraft and helicopters, a reinforced landing battalion of the Tercio de Armada, and a frigate.
The amphibious ships Galicia and Castilla, the combat supply ship Cantabria, the submarine Tramontana, and Army helicopters are also expected to join the group as the deployment progresses.
The first phase of these manoeuvres will take place off the coasts of Italy and France, followed by Egypt, before returning to the Italian coast before the end of the deployment in March.
The battle group will interact with other NATO groups and units, providing training opportunities for the group’s staff and personnel.