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Coat of Arms LHD "Juan Carlos I"
Coat of Arms LHD "Juan Carlos I" (L-61)
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Coat of Arms LHD "Juan Carlos I"
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" near San Felipe Castle in the Ferrol estuary
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" next to a loaded LCM-1E
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" with several LCM-1E
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" flight deck with several aircraft.
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" (L-61)
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" (L-61)
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" (L-61)
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LHD "Juan Carlos I" (L-61)

The multi-purpose Strategic Projection Ship ‘Juan Carlos I’ is the largest naval unit ever built in Spain. Her NATO denomination is LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) and is named after His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, following a long tradition in the Spanish Navy to christen ships with the name of the reigning monarch.

The ship ‘Juan Carlos I’ is an instrument of the Spanish Navy to guarantee the response capability and global influence at the disposal of the Government, in support of the growing international projection of Spain. It is a technologically advanced, interoperable, trained and enlisted unit, which allows it to successfully operate in many and varied scenarios. She was designed and built entirely in Spain, as an example of the capabilities achieved by our defense industry resulting in an enhanced prestige outside our borders.

Displacement: 26.000 toneladas.

Length: 231 m.

Beam: 32 m.


  • 1 gas turbine
  • 2 Diesel Generators
  • 2 x POD at 11,0 MW each
  • Aircraft: Capability for up to 30 medium and heavy helicopters for amphibious operations or 10/12 F-35B or AV-8B+ and similar number of helicopters in her aircraft-carrier configuration.

    Crew: 295

    Weapons: 4 machine-guns 12,7 m/m. Space for future anti-missile CIWS (ESSM or RAM).


  • Tri-dimensional radar LANZA-N: Search air radar up to 250 nm.
  • Aries Radars: twin radars fore and aft for surface surveillance and helicopter control.
  • PAR Radar(Precise Approach Radar) for aircraft approach and air traffic control.
  • Electronic warfare sets REGULUS and RIGEL.
  • All sensors data are processed in the indigenous SCOMBA combat system.
  • Range: 9.000 nm at 15 Knots.

    The ship has been designed for four mission profiles:

  • Amphibious ship transporting a Marine Corps Force for landings and land support operations.
  • Force projection ship transporting Army forces to any theatre of operations.
  • Platform for embarked air units in strategic projection missions.
  • • Non-combatant operations: humanitarian aid, evacuation from crisis zones and hospital-ship in catastrophe areas.
  • Although the ship was built in Ferrol, her home port is Rota Naval Base (Cádiz), more specifically she is integrated into the Surface Combat Force. As a command ship (flagship) she can participate in many force projection tasks also contributing to other training activities of the Fleet.

    The L-61 has self-defense and close-in weapons systems like the four remotely-controlled 12.7 mm ‘Browning’ machine-guns.

    The ship has no vehicles but embarks those from the participating units; namely Tercio de Armada amphibious vehicles and Aircraft Flotilla units (VTOL Harrier aircraft and helicopters). Transport to and from the dock is carried out in LCM craft.

    The procuring process started in May 2002 when the Naval General Staff drafted a document defining the Spanish Navy requirement for a large multi-purpose platform for strategic projection missions with Marine Corps and Army Forces and capable of operating as aircraft-carrier as well. In 2003 the contract specifications were defined and in March 2004 the construction order was signed between the Spanish Navy and Navantia.

    The ship was built with state-of-the-art technology and modular systems (blocks). The King and the Queen presided over the launching ceremony of the LHD ‘Juan Carlos I’ which took place on March 8th 2008 at the NAVANTIA-Ferrol Shipyards, sponsored by Queen Sofia. Sea trials commenced in 2009 and the ship was finally delivered to the Spanish Navy on September 30th 2010.

    The standard crew consists of 295 people: 31 officers, 53 NCOs, 66 leading seamen and 145 ratings. But on special deployments, the ship can become a ‘floating city’ accommodating up to 1,500 people.

    In terms of operations, the ship participated according to its role as a logistics ship in Operation ‘ISPUHEL’ in 2018, transporting Army Helicopter Units and material to Kuwait for its integration into the ‘INHERENT RESOLVE’ operation in Iraq.

    On the other hand, the ship has participated in many national and international exercises; among them, and to name but a few, the ‘BALTOPS’ exercise in 2019 in the Baltic Sea; and the ‘MAVI BALINA’ exercise in 2022 in Turkish waters of the Aegean Sea, in which NATO certified the Fleet Amphibious and Projection Group (GRUPFLOT) to operate in the future as command flagship of the Alliance's amphibious force.


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