F-80 frigate ‘Navarra’ turns 30!

Friday, May 31, 2024

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Frigate ‘Navarra’ in Rota Naval Base.
Frigate ‘Navarra’ in Rota Naval Base.
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Frigate ‘Navarra’ in Rota Naval Base.
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Launching of the ‘Navarra’ in October 1992.
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Handing of the Battle Ensign on June 1st 1996.
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The ‘Navarra’ off the Perejil Island in 2002.
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A crew in the 90’s.
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The current crew of the ‘Navarra’.

On May 30, 1994, 30 years ago, the frigate ‘Navarra’ was delivered to the Spanish Navy, a veteran ship launched in October 1992 in the Ferrol shipyard of the then ‘E.N. Bazán’ (now Navantia). Since then, the ‘Navarra’ has been witness and participant of the day to day of the Armada. She has undergone a mid-life upgrade and her technological evolution has resulted in an improvement in the training and preparation of her different crewmembers. The frigate was delivered with new improvements over the initial design of the U.S. ‘Oliver Hazard Perry’-class frigates. Together with the ‘Canarias’, which was commissioned months later, she formed the 2nd series of the ‘Santa María’-class frigates, whose capabilities were greatly enhanced, mainly in sensors and weapons, with a slightly higher degree of nationalization than the first four units of the class.

In this regard, and as noted in the press in the summer of 1993, “... everything points to these frigates being effective well into the 21st Century”. They were not wrong. During these 30 years, the ‘Navarra’ has participated in multiple operations, from ‘Enduring Freedom’ and ‘Active Endeavour’, to the current ‘Atalanta’ and ‘Sea Guardian’. She has sailed more than 600,000 miles, with more than 3,000 sea days having visited 88 different ports of 32 countries. In this long period, it is difficult to single out the countless episodes experienced by the 2,050 people who have been part of her crew.

However, among the highlights worth mentioning are her participation in the ‘Perejil’ Island crisis in July 2002. This Spanish enclave in North Africa had been occupied by Moroccan forces, and the ‘Navarra’ participated, as part of the force deployed by Spain, in its recovery. The mission was successfully completed, demonstrating the effectiveness of the joint action of the Armed Forces in the defense and guarantee of national sovereignty. In December of the same year, the ‘Navarra’ was also involved in the boarding of the North Korean ship ‘So San’ near Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean. While participating in Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’, the F-80 frigate ‘Navarra’ and the AOR ‘Patiño’ intercepted the merchant ship carrying an undeclared cargo of ‘Scud’ missiles. This action, carried out under the mandate of the international coalition led by the United States, was a clear message against terrorism and highlighted Spain's role in global security and its commitment to its allies.

More recently, in the course of a patrol during the EU's Operation ‘SOPHIA’, the vessel rescued a boatload of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Among them was Amina, a young Ivorian woman in an advanced state of pregnancy, who gave birth to a baby girl on board, christened Muna Navarra, with the assistance of the medical team on board.

The frigate's expertise and prestige gained with the endeavors of her crews during these three decades, together with her capabilities, allow the frigate to continue being a fundamental element in the missions of the Armed Forces for the defense of the national territory and maritime areas of interest. To this end, the ‘Navarra’ continues to focus her activity on continuous readiness and availability, through participation in both national and international exercises, as well as in the integration in EU and NATO forces, mainly in deployments in the Indian Ocean (Operation ‘Atalanta’) and the Mediterranean (Operation ‘Sea Guardian’).


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