The frigate was launched on October 27th 2000 in NAVANTIA Shipyards in Ferrol. Her Sponsor was Casilda Silva Fernández de la Henestrona, Marchioness of Santa Cruz, a descendant of Admiral Álvaro de Bazán. The ship was delivered to the Spanish Navy on September 19th 2002 under the presidency of Prime Minister José Mª Aznar.
The frigate received her Battle Ensign from Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias on September 19th 2006 in Motril (Granada).
She is the fourth vessel in the Spanish Navy with that name: the first one was a three mast steamer (1841-1873); the second a similar one (1873-1885) and the third one was a gunner (1904-1926).
The name “Álvaro de Bazán” comes from the 1st Marquis of Santa Cruz who fought in different battles in Lepanto, Gibraltar, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores.
Álvaro de Bazán was born in Granada in 1526 in a noble family. He served two kings: Charles I and Philip II. He decidedly contributed to the expansion of the Spanish Empire with his victories over the Turks and pirates in the Mediterranean, and over French and British squadrons in the Atlantic Ocean.
Undoubtedly, his most important victory was Lepanto in 1571 against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. His charisma, expertise and bravery are second to none in the Spanish Navy. He was awarded the title of “Capitán de la Mar Océana” and a nobility title. He died in Lisbon, then a Spanish city, in 1588.
The ship’s motto and coat of arms: “Rey Servido y Patria Honrada” (Served king and Honoured Homeland)
The crew consists of 257 people (18 officers, 39 NCOs, 95 Petty officers 2nd class, 105 ratings). Around 15% are female. There is accommodation space for just 236, so the crew adapts depending on the missions entrusted. Thus, the ship can embark other personnel like a Staff when operating as a Command Ship, flight crews to operate and maintain the SH-60B, or a Marine Corps detachment.
The crew is divided into specialities: Submarine Warfare, Electronics, Communications, Energy and Propulsion, Administration, Manoeuvre and Navigation, Tactical Systems, Ordnance and Missiles, Fire Control, Sonar, Electricity and Catering. Most of the crew comes from Galicia but there are also personnel from other Spanish regions, as well as from South American nations (Venezuela, Peru and Colombia).
The “Álvaro de Bazán” is a modern ship. Although accommodation in a warship is limited and austere, habitability is comfortable and cosy.
The ship spends around 100 days per year out of base, most of them in foreign ports and waters, collaborating with ships from all over the world.
Next, are the most important activities of the ship:
The SNMG-2 is made up of an assortment of frigates and logistic ships from different NATO nations.
Operation ‘Atalanta’ is the first naval operation led by the European Union and is a clear example of the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in harmony with several UN Security Council resolutions.
The ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ has set sail to start the second stage of her midshipmen training cruise where they continue with their 4th year studies on board.
‘Atalanta’ warships are also engaged in escort tasks of World Food Program vessels carrying humanitarian aid to Somali refugees and monitor fishing activities in that zone.
‘Active Endeavour’ is an operation intended to deter terrorist organizations from using the Mediterranean Sea for their criminal activities, enhancing the awareness of the maritime domain and carrying out maritime security operations.
The schedule of events is very tight. From the very first day several meetings were organized to prepare the maneuvers we are about to participate with the Turkish Navy: ‘Dogu Akdeniz’
During this two and a half month-long deployment, the ‘Infanta Elena’ will participate in several APS maritime security exercises.