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Frigate ‘Cristóbal Colón’ concludes Australian deployment and heads home. - Navy News - Armada Española - Ministerio de Defensa - Gobierno de España

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Sunday, 24 September 2017 - document to 08:38:11
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Deployment in Australia

Frigate ‘Cristóbal Colón’ concludes Australian deployment and heads home.
The frigate was deployed in that country under a cooperation agreement between Australia and Spain.
Friday, June 23, 2017


Following a successful four-month deployment in Australia, the Spanish Navy ship ‘Cristóbal Colón’ (F-105) wrapped up her mission commencing a 13,000 mile journey home on 19 June.

RAN’s Fleet Commander, Rear admiral Stuart Mayer bid farewell to the ship and her crew. Prior to the departure, the Spanish Ambassador to Australia, Manuel Cacho, offered a reception on board the frigate attended, among other authorities, by the Chief of the Australian Navy, Vice admiral Tim Barrett.

On her way back home, the F-105 is scheduled to call at the ports of Papeete (Tahiti) and Callao (Peru).

The ‘Cristóbal Colón’ spent 80 days at sea sailing more than 26,000 nautical miles and using more than 3 million liters of fuel. Worth mentioning are the 20 naval gunfire exercises, 19 replenishments at sea and different flight operations with RAN aircraft.

The F-105, during her time embedded with the Royal Australian Navy fleet, welcomed and inducted more than 200 Australian sailors. This equates to roughly 90 per cent of the ship’s company of the destroyer ‘Hobart’ due to join the Australian fleet in 2017.

‘Cristóbal Colón’, sister ship to Australia’s three new Spanish-designed ‘Hobart’ class guided missile destroyers, operates the state-of-the-art AEGIS combat system as well as other sophisticated life support systems to be used in the Australian destroyers.

The ‘Cristóbal Colón’ liaison officer Lieutenant Christopher Thornton said the ship had provided for a staggering 2,500 individual training days at sea. ‘Hobart’ sailors have been living aboard, working side by side with their Spanish counterparts and taking an active role in operating the ship.

As part of the sea familiarization, officers and sailors from all ship departments from chefs to warfare officers have been completing familiarization booklets that will add value to more structured classroom and simulator training.

“What we normally do is to provide training first and contextualize it afterwards, but with ‘Cristóbal Colón’ we were able to contextualize first and provide training afterwards,” Lieutenant Thornton said.

In the case for combat system operators, 80 per cent of the combat system will be the same as in ‘Hobart’, so when the operators step on board they will be familiar with the consoles, and they will know what they’re looking at even if they haven’t done any courses yet.

The intention was that the ship’s company of ‘Hobart’ will have an accelerated acceptance time, partly due to the time they’ve spent on ‘Cristóbal Colón’. The sea familiarization hasn’t just been a benefit to Hobart’s ship’s company, with other Royal Australian Navy units and ‘Cristóbal Colón’ herself capitalizing on four months of combined training.

“An example of this is the 808 Squadron’s MRH90 helicopter night flying, which helped the aircrew gain night vision goggle certification, but it also helped the ship gain valuable skills working with diverse elements of a foreign navy such as ourselves,” Lieutenant Thornton said.

The training officer of the ‘Cristóbal Colón’, Sub Lieutenant Joaquin Garat said making use of Australia’s vast military training areas had been a big highlight. “We were able to maximize training in areas such as naval gunfire support because of fewer restrictions on the ranges here compared with Europe,” he said.

“Our ship’s company completed sea qualification trials just before we came out here so they’ve got an advanced knowledge of how to use the systems, but we haven’t had the chance to do it in a multinational task group yet, particularly with submarines. That’s been a very good part of our deployment, it’s boosted our training level and it’s allowed us to gain experience in areas we usually don’t get to.”

F-100 frigate ‘Cristóbal Colón’

The F-105 was built by Navantia in its Ferrol shipyards. She was launched in November 2010 and commissioned into active service on October 23rd 2012.

The ship has participated in Operation ‘Ocean Shield’ integrated into the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2) as flagship. It is a counterpiracy and maritime security operation in the Indian Ocean. This NATO task group works in cooperation with other European Union-led missions in the area.

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