The units of the Expeditionary Group ‘Dedalo’ 23 return to their base after more than two months deployed as part of the Spanish contribution to maritime security in the Mediterranean and to NATO deterrence and defence strategy.
The Group, commanded by Rear Admiral Gonzalo Villar, is composed of the 'Juan Carlos I', an embarked air unit consisting of AV8B+ "Harrier" planes and helicopters, a reinforced Marine Landing Battalion and the frigate 'Victoria'.
Particularly noteworthy among the activities carried out was the humanitarian support provided to the Turkish population affected by the earthquake last February. For eight days, the Group provided humanitarian aid to the affected population in the city of Alexandretta, collaborating in the search for survivors among the rubble and distributing food and drinking water to the victims.
The search effort among the wreckage of the ruined buildings was rewarded with the rescue of a seven-year-old boy and a 70-year-old adult, on the fifth and sixth day after the earthquake, when hopes were already fading. It also expedited the distribution of up to 3,600 tons of aid. They also assisted in unloading ships at Limak port and planes at Adana airport as well as organising convoys for the material to reach its recipients in Alexandretta
After their support to Turkey, the ‘Dédalo-23’ Group began its participation in NATO's “Neptune Strike” vigilance activities, which included numerous coordinated missions with the US aircraft carrier “George H.W. Bush” and the Italian “The Cavour”, through the airspaces of Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, North Macedonia, Albania, Italy and Greece.
Subsequently, the Group participated in the French exercise ‘HEMEX ORIÓN’ together with about twenty ships and 20,000 military personnel. Later on ‘Dedalo-23’ led five days of exercises of the Spanish-Italian Amphibious Force together with ships, planes and units of the transalpine country.
On 20 March, after the end of the exercises, the Group made a stopover in Naples, where it received the visit of the Minister of Defence. Finally the ship set course for Valencia and ten weeks after its departure, it arrived at its base in Rota.
The 'Dedalo 23' deployment has demonstrated the Navy's ability to project an expeditionary naval force for a prolonged period of time and away from its base, operating with other navies and NATO groupings in a wide variety of scenarios. It has shown its flexibility and ability to adapt to unforeseen situations in the shortest possible time, as occurred after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, to successfully provide aid to the affected population without reducing its operational capabilities.