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|Naval Station Rota|
Base Naval de Rota
|Rota, Province of Cádiz, Spain|
U.S. Naval Station Rota logo
|Controlled by||USA and Spain under several mutual aid agreements|
|Built||September 26, 1953|
|In use||1953 - present|
|Spanish Navy Vice Admiral and the Commander, U.S. Naval Activities, Spain|
Naval Station Rota, also known as NAVSTA Rota, (IATA: ROZ, ICAO: LERT) (Spanish: Base Naval de Rota), is a Spanish naval base commanded by a Spanish Rear Admiral and fully funded by the United States of America. Located in Rota in the Province of Cádiz, near the town of El Puerto de Santa María, NAVSTA Rota is the largest American military community in Spain, housing US Navy and US Marine Corps personnel. There are also small US Army and US Air Force contingents on the base.
NAVSTA Rota has been in use since 1953, when Spanish dictator Francisco Franco strengthened relations with the United States in order to improve local economies. The installation now covers more than 6,000 acres (24 km2) on the northern shore of Cadiz, an area recognized for its strategic, maritime importance over the centuries.
The Chief of Naval Operations deployed Submarine Squadron 16 (SUBRON 16) to Rota on 28 January 1964 and embarked upon USS Proteus. USS Lafayette completed its first Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) deterrent patrol with the Polaris missile and commenced the first refit and replenishment at Rota. During the early 1970s, the submarines assigned to SUBRON 16 were completing conversion to the Poseidon missile. That transition was completed when USS Francis Scott Key returned to Rota on 14 January 1974. Treaty negotiations between Spain and the United States in 1975 resulted in a planned withdrawal of SUBRON 16 from Spain, and the Chief of Naval Operations ordered studies to select a new refit site on the East Coast of the United States. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in June 1976; it called for the squadron's withdrawal from Spain by July 1979. In November 1976 the Secretary of the Navy announced Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia as that new refit site.
At its peak size in the early 1980s, NAVSTA Rota was home to 16,000 sailors and their families, to include two permanently forward deployed aviation squadrons, Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two (VQ-2) and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron TWENTY TWO (VR-22). VQ-2 was based at Rota from 1959 until 2005, when it relocated to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. VR-22 flew the C-130F and was based at Rota from 1982 until its inactivation in 1993. Through the early 1990s, a patrol squadron of P-3 Orion aircraft based in the United States would also be split-based between NAVSTA Rota and the Naval Air Facility at Lajes Air Base in the Azores to track Soviet naval vessels and submarines in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean. The patrol squadrons would rotate assignment to Rota and Lajes every six months and were augmented by Naval Air Reserve patrol squadrons for shorter durations on a periodic basis.
With the downsizing of the US Navy during the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially after the end of the Cold War, the base's population dramatically declined. The US Navy maintains approximately 5,200 acres (21 km2) of the 6,000-acre (24 km2) complex. There are about 4,000 Americans in Rota, including military, civilians, and their families.
As US Navy started to reduce its presence USAF realized the potential of the airfield as a refuelling stop in Middle East deployments. Rota was used by C-5 and C-141 planes in the Gulf War in 1991. Later the US agreed with Spain to improve air base installations so it could handle more cargo plane operations.
In April 2011, the commander of the US Navy garrison at the base, Captain William F. Mosk, was relieved of command and reassigned during an investigation into illegal drug use by US servicemen at the installation. Rear Admiral Tony Gaiani relieved Mosk for "lost confidence in his ability to command", specifically, to handle issues related to the investigation.
On October 5, 2011, US Secretary of Defense Panetta announced that the USN will station four Aegis warships at Rota to strengthen its presence in the Mediterranean Sea and bolster the missile defense of NATO as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). As of 2015, four US destroyers, including USS Carney, USS Ross, USS Donald Cook and USS Porter are permanently forward-deployed to Naval Station Rota as part of the Missile Defense System.
Naval Station Rota is home to an airfield and a seaport; the airfield has often caused the base to be misidentified as "Naval Air Station Rota". The base is the headquarters for Commander, U.S. Naval Activities Spain (COMNAVACTSPAIN), as well as a primary gateway for Air Mobility Command flights into Europe.
Naval Station Rota is strategically located near the Strait of Gibraltar and at the halfway point between the United States and Southwest Asia. Because of this ideal location, the base is able to provide invaluable support to both US Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean and to USAF Air Mobility Command units transiting to Germany and Southwest Asia. The Base and its tenant commands are located within the boundaries of the 6,100-acre (25 km2) Spanish "Base Naval de Rota". Under the guidance of the Agreement for Defense Cooperation, the US and Spanish navies work together and share many facilities. The US Navy has the responsibility for maintaining the station's infrastructure, including a 670-acre (2.7 km2) airfield, three active piers, 426 facilities and 806 family housing units.
Naval Station Rota provides support for US and NATO ships; supports the safe and efficient movement of US Navy and US Air Force flights and passengers; and provides cargo, fuel, and ammunition to units in the region. The Naval Station is the only base in the Mediterranean capable of supporting Amphibious Readiness Group post-deployment wash-downs. The base port also offers secure, pier-side maintenance and back-load facilities. Rota supports Amphibious Readiness Group turnovers and hosts Sailors and Marines from visiting afloat units. The base also provides Quality of Life support to Morón Air Base, ARG support sites at Palma de Majorca, NATO headquarters in Madrid and the Military Sealift Command's Maritime Prepositioning Squadron 1. Rota also supports NASA Space Shuttle missions, and ongoing operations in the European theater of operations. The piers in Rota are available for US and NATO aircraft carriers, as well as ESPS Juan Carlos I (L-61), one of the capital ships operated by the Spanish Navy which has replaced the aircraft carrier ESPS Príncipe de Asturias (R-11).
The mission of US Forces at Rota, as well as other US Navy installations in the Mediterranean such as NAS Sigonella and Souda Air Base is to provide Command, Control and Logistics Support to US and NATO Operating Forces. These three facilities are undergoing a transformation from Maritime Patrol Aircraft airfields to Multi-role "Hubs" providing crucial air-links for USAF strategic airlift and mobility in support of US European Command (EUCOM), Central Command (CENTCOM) and African Area contingency operations under CENTCOM, EUCOM and the evolving Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The base is used jointly by Spain and the United States. It remains under the Spanish flag and is commanded by a Spanish Vice Admiral. While the Spanish Navy is responsible for external security of the base, both Navies are charged with internal security. NAVSTA Rota is technically a tenant facility of the Rota Spanish Navy base, although as such the USA pays for all the expenses and capital improvements. As a result, certain U.S. military customs are not observed, such as the display of a U.S. Flag, which is only allowed during the annual Fourth of July celebration or occasionally at half mast as a mark of respect with the ad-hoc permission of the Spanish Admiral.
Since the 1980s, various leftist and activist pacifist groups have marched annually to protest the presence of U.S. and Spanish military personnel and equipment at the port of Rota. The most common path marches alongside the seaside streets of the town to protest at the individual U.S. (NAVSTA Rota), Spanish (Base Naval de Rota) and joint gates, where representatives of the groups read proclamations in favour of peace and freedom.
The protests against the base are considered controversial amongst local residents, with some opposed to the protests because they consider that the base provides jobs and businesses benefit from money derived from the Spanish and U.S. military.
USS Ross Conducting Naval Operations
Galicia-class Castilla of the Spanish Navy based at Rota.
26th MEU at Naval Station Rota