The frigate 'Álvaro de Bazán' has returned to her base after more than four months deployed in Operation Brilliant Shield as part of Task Group 441.01 in Joint Operations Area Centre.
The 'Álvaro de Bazán' left Ferrol on 15 February to join NATO's Standing NATO Maritime Grouping 1 (SNMG1). SNMG1 currently feeds the aforementioned TG 441.01 and forms the core of NATO's very high readiness maritime force (VJTF-M).
The ship has operated in the North Sea, North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea as an Anti-Air Warfare Commander (AAWC) and has conducted enhanced active surveillance patrols. Through its presence and capabilities, the ship has been able to optimally monitor activity and life patterns in the areas where it has been deployed, thus contributing to NATO's deterrence effort, support to allied coastal states in the area and support to the security of critical infrastructure.
It has also participated in the 'Dynamic Guard', 'Joint Warrior', 'Dynamic Mongoose', 'Formidable Shield' and 'Baltops' exercises, demonstrating NATO capabilities in all geographic areas of interest in Operation Brilliant Shield. This has allowed them to maintain their level of training, both individually and collectively, and to foster cohesion and interoperability with other units from allied nations. All of this with the aim of contributing to improving the group's operability and effectiveness and thus providing security and stability in northern Europe.
132 days after leaving Ferrol and after having travelled 25,000 nautical miles, having supported Spanish diplomatic delegations in 9 allied countries and having fulfilled all the tasks and duties assigned by NATO Commanders, the ship and her crew are returning home with their mission accomplished to enjoy their well-deserved rest.
The frigate has represented Spain, the Armed Forces and the Navy. With this deployment, Spain continues to strengthen its commitment to NATO and to the defence of national and allied interests.
On arrival at the Ferrol Arsenal, a welcoming ceremony was held, presided over by the Commander of the 31st Surface Squadron, Gonzalo Leira Neira, accompanied by commissions of colleagues from other units in the area and with the fundamental presence of the crew's families, proud of the work of their loved ones and eager to be reunited after more than four months.
The Commander addressed the frigate's crew, including the Marine Infantry EOS team and the personnel of the Embarked Air Unit (UNAEMB), congratulating them on the effort and dedication shown during their deployment, and wishing them a well-deserved rest in the company of their families.
The frigate 'Álvaro de Bazán' was delivered to the Navy on 19 September 2002 and is the first frigate of the F-100 series, belonging to the 31st Surface Squadron. It carried out its mission with 219 men and women on board, including an embarked air unit, an operational security team belonging to the Security Unit of the Tercio de Armada and 1 Chaplain.
The 31st Surface Ship Squadron consists of five F-100 frigates and two combat supply ships based in Ferrol, representing deterrence and defence capabilities unmatched by other navy squadrons in Europe.
The F-100s were the first warships to incorporate the AEGIS combat system in Europe. Logistics ships are force multipliers for combat capabilities. Recently two ships of this type were built in Navantia Ferrol and delivered to the Australian Navy.