|Active||13th century — present|
|Branch||Spanish Armed Forces|
|Size||20,838 personnel (2016) |
|Part of||Ministry of Defence|
|Garrison/HQ||Headquarters: Spanish Navy Headquarters, Madrid |
Main naval bases: Naval Station of Rota, Arsenal de Ferrol, Arsenal de Cartagena, Mahón Naval Station, Arsenal de las Palmas, Arsenal de la Carraca, Naval Military School of Marín
|Patron||Virgen del Carmen|
|March||Himno de la Escuela Naval (José María Pemán)|
|Commander in Chief||King Felipe VI|
|Admiral Chief of the Naval Staff||Admiral Teodoro E. López Calderón|
|Helicopter||Sikorsky SH60 SeaHawk|
|Cargo helicopter||Sikorsky SeaKing|
|Multirole helicopter||Augusta Bell 212|
The Spanish Navy (Spanish : Armada Española) is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces and one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Spanish navy was responsible for a number of major historic achievements in navigation, the most famous being the discovery of America by Spain and the first global circumnavigation by Magellan and Elcano. For several centuries, it played a crucial logistical role in the Spanish Empire and defended a vast trade network across the Atlantic Ocean between the Americas and Europe and across the Pacific Ocean between Asia and the Americas.
Spanish, known in the Middle Ages as Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
A navy or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littoral, or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious ships, submarines, and seaborne aviation, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores. The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications, open-ocean applications, and something in between, although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.
The Spanish Armed Forces are in charge of guaranteeing the sovereignty and independence of Spain, defender of its territorial integrity and the constitutional order, according to the functions entrusted in the Constitution of 1978. These are formations by: the Army, the Air Force, the Spanish Armada, the Royal Guard and the Military Emergency Unit, as well as the so-called Common Corps.
The Spanish Navy was the most powerful maritime force in the world in the 16th and 17th centuries and possibly the world's largest navy at the end of the 16th century and in the early 17th century [ vague ]. Reform under the Bourbon dynasty improved its logistical and military capacity in the 18th century, for most of which Spain possessed the world's third largest navy. In the 19th century, the Spanish Navy built and operated one of the first military submarines, made important contributions in the development of destroyer warships, and again achieved a first global circumnavigation, this time by an ironclad vessel.
The Bourbon Reforms were a set of economic and political legislation promulgated by the Spanish Crown under various kings of the House of Bourbon, mainly in the 18th century. The strengthening of the crown's power with clear lines of authority to officials contrasted to the complex system of government that evolved under the Habsburg monarchs. In particular, the crown pursued state supremacy over the Catholic Church, resulting in the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1767 as well as an attempt to abolish ecclesiastical privilege.
Destructor was a 19th-century Spanish warship. She was a fast ocean-going torpedo gunboat and a precursor of the destroyer type of vessel. Destructor was the first warship classified as a "destroyer" at the time of her commissioning. Her designer was a Spanish Navy officer, Fernando Villaamil, commissioned by the Minister of the Navy, Vice-Admiral Manuel Pezuela.
The main bases of the Spanish Navy are located in Rota, Ferrol, San Fernando and Cartagena.
San Fernando is a town in the province of Cádiz, Spain. It is home to more than 97,500 inhabitants. The city also uses the name "La Isla". The people from San Fernando are locally known as "Cañaíllas" or "Isleños".
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2018, it has a population of 213,943 inhabitants, being the Region’s second-largest municipality and the country’s sixth-largest non-Province-capital city. The metropolitan area of Cartagena, known as Campo de Cartagena, has a population of 409,586 inhabitants.
The roots of the modern Spanish navy date back to before the unification of Spain. By the late Middle Ages, the two principal kingdoms that would later combine to form Spain, Aragon and Castile, had developed powerful fleets. Aragon possessed the third largest navy in the late medieval Mediterranean, although its capabilities were exceeded by those of Venice and (until overtaken in the 15th century by those of Aragon) Genoa. In the 14th and 15th centuries, these naval capabilities enabled Aragon to assemble the largest collection of territories of any European power in the Mediterranean, encompassing the Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily, southern Italy and, briefly, the Duchy of Athens.
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
The Crown of Aragon was a composite monarchy, also nowadays referred to as a confederation of individual polities or kingdoms ruled by one king, with a personal and dynastic union of the Kingdom of Aragon and the County of Barcelona. At the height of its power in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Crown of Aragon was a thalassocracy controlling a large portion of present-day eastern Spain, parts of what is now southern France, and a Mediterranean "empire" which included the Balearic Islands, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta, Southern Italy and parts of Greece. The component realms of the Crown were not united politically except at the level of the king, who ruled over each autonomous polity according to its own laws, raising funds under each tax structure, dealing separately with each Corts or Cortes. Put in contemporary terms, it has sometimes been considered that the different lands of the Crown of Aragon functioned more as a confederation than as a single kingdom. In this sense, the larger Crown of Aragon must not be confused with one of its constituent parts, the Kingdom of Aragon, from which it takes its name.
The Crown of Castile was a medieval state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and, some decades later, the parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then Castilian king, Ferdinand III, to the vacant Leonese throne. It continued to exist as a separate entity after the personal union in 1469 of the crowns of Castile and Aragon with the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs up to the promulgation of the Nueva Planta decrees by Philip V in 1715.
Castile meanwhile used its naval capacities to conduct its Reconquista operations against the Moors, capturing Cádiz in 1232 and also to help the French Crown against England in the Hundred Years' War. In 1375, a Castilian fleet destroyed a large English fleet at Bourgneuf, and Castilian ships raided the English coast. As Castile developed long-lasting trade relationships with towns in the Low Countries of the Netherlands and Flanders, the English Channel virtually became the “Spanish Channel.”In 1402, a Castilian expedition led by Juan de Bethencourt conquered the Canary Islands for Henry III of Castile. In 1419, the Castilians defeated the German Hanseatic League at sea and excluded them from the Bay of Biscay.
The Reconquista was the period in the history of the Iberian Peninsula of about 780 years between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492. The completed conquest of Granada was the context of the Spanish voyages of discovery and conquest, and the Americas—the "New World"—ushered in the era of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires.
The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers. The name was later also applied to Arabs.
Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.
In the 15th century, Castile entered into a race of exploration with Portugal, the country that inaugurated the European Age of Discovery. In 1492, two caravels and a carrack, commanded by Christopher Columbus, arrived in America, on an expedition that sought a westward oceanic passage across the Atlantic, to the Far East. This began the era of trans-oceanic trade routes, pioneered by the Spanish in the seas to the west of Europe and the Portuguese to the east.
The Portuguese Empire, also known as the Portuguese Overseas or the Portuguese Colonial Empire, was composed of the overseas colonies and territories governed by Portugal. One of the largest and longest-lived empires in world history, it existed for almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415, to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999. The empire began in the 15th century, and from the early 16th century it stretched across the globe, with bases in North and South America, Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania. The Portuguese Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Spanish Empire.
The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, is an informal and loosely defined term for the period in European history in which extensive overseas exploration emerged as a powerful factor in European culture and which was the beginning of globalization. It also marks the rise of the period of widespread adoption in Europe of colonialism and mercantilism as national policies. Many lands previously unknown to Europeans were discovered by them during this period, though most were already inhabited. From the perspective of many non-Europeans, the Age of Discovery marked the arrival of invaders from previously unknown continents.
The caravel was a small, highly maneuverable sailing ship developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese to explore along the West African coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. The lateen sails gave it speed and the capacity for sailing windward (beating). Caravels were used by the Portuguese and Castilians (Spain) for the oceanic exploration voyages during the 15th and 16th centuries in the Age of Discovery.
Following the discovery of America and the settlement of certain Caribbean islands, such as Cuba, Spanish conquistadors Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro were carried by the Spanish navy to the mainland, where they conquered Mexico and Peru respectively. The navy also carried explorers to the North American mainland, including Juan Ponce de León and Álvarez de Pineda, who discovered Florida (1519) and Texas (1521) respectively. In 1519, Spain sent out the first expedition of world circumnavigation in history, which was put in the charge of the Portuguese Commander Ferdinand Magellan. Following the death of Magellan in the Philippines, the expedition was completed under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano in 1522. In 1565, a follow-on expedition by Miguel López de Legazpi was carried by the navy from New Spain (Mexico) to the Philippines via Guam in order to establish the Spanish East Indies, a base for trade with the Orient. For two and a half centuries, the Manila galleons operated across the Pacific linking Manila and Acapulco. Until the early 17th century, the Pacific Ocean. Aside from the Marianas and Caroline Islands, several naval expeditions also discovered the Tuvalu archipelago, the Marquesas, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea in the South Pacific. In the quest for Terra Australis, Spanish explorers in the 17th century also discovered the Pitcairn and Vanuatu archipelagos. Most significantly, from 1565 Spanish fleets explored and colonised the Philippine archipelago, the Spanish East Indies.
|List of Victories|
|Conquest of Majorca 1229|
|Conquest of Menorca 1232|
|Conquest of Ibiza 1234|
|Conquest of Seville 1248|
|Battle of Malta 1283|
|Combat of Sorrento 1284|
|Battle of Castellamare 1287|
|Battle of Cape St. Vincent 1337|
|Battle of La Rochelle 1371|
|Combat of Gibraltar 1407|
|Battle of La Rochelle 1419|
|Conquest of the Canary Islands 1484|
|Conquest of Malaga 1487|
|Conquest of Oran 1509|
|Conquest of Tunis 1535|
|Battle of Muros Bay 1544|
|Conquest of Velez 1584|
|Battle of Lepanto 1571|
|Battle of Ponta Delgada 1582|
|Disembarkation of Terceira Island 1583|
|Spanish landing on Ireland 1602|
|Battle of Saint Vincent 1603?|
|Battle of Playa Honda 1617|
|Battle de Pernambuco 1621|
|Combate de Las Antillas 1629|
|Batalla de los Abrojos 1631|
|Conquest of Sardinia 1717|
|Battle of Cartagena de Indias 1741|
|Battle of Toulon 1744|
|Battle of the Azores 1780|
|Siege of Pensacola 1781|
|Reconquest of Buenos Aires 1806|
|Battle of Cadiz 1808|
|Siege of Cádiz 1810 - 1812|
|Bombardeo del Callao 1866|
|Landing on Alhucemas 1925|
|Battle of the Strait 1936|
|Cantabrian campaign 1936 - 1939|
|Campaign of the Mediterranean 1936 - 1939|
After the unification of its kingdoms under the House of Habsburg, Spain maintained two largely separate fleets, one consisting chiefly of galleys for use in the Mediterranean and the other of sailing ships for the Atlantic, successors to the Aragonese and Castilian navies respectively. This arrangement continued until superseded by the decline of galley warfare during the 17th century. The completion of the Reconquista with the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada in 1492 had been followed by naval expansion in the Mediterranean, where Spain seized control of almost every significant port along the coast of North Africa west of Cyrenaica, notably Melilla (captured 1497), Mers El Kébir (1505), Oran (1509), Algiers (1510) and Tripoli (1510), which marked the furthest point of this advance. However, the hinterlands of these ports remained under the control of their Muslim and Berber inhabitants, and the expanding naval power of the Ottoman Empire brought about a major Islamic counter-offensive, which embroiled Spain in decades of intense warfare for control of the western Mediterranean. (Algiers and Tripoli would be lost to the Ottomans later in the 16th century.) From the 1570s, the lengthy Dutch Revolt increasingly challenged Spanish sea power, producing powerful rebel naval forces that attacked Spanish shipping and in time made Spain's sea communications with its possessions in the Low Countries difficult. Most notable of these attacks was the Battle of Gibraltar in 1607, in which a Dutch squadron destroyed a fleet of galleons at anchor in the confines of the bay. This naval war took on a global dimension with actions in the Caribbean and the Far East, notably around the Philippines. Spain's response to its problems included the encouragement of privateers based in the Spanish Netherlands and known from their main base as Dunkirkers, who preyed on Dutch merchant ships and fishing trawlers.
At the Battle of Lepanto (1571), the Holy League, formed by Spain, Venice, the Papal States and other Christian allies, inflicted a great defeat on the Ottoman Navy, stopping Muslim forces from gaining uncontested control of the Mediterranean.
In the 1580s, the conflict in the Netherlands drew England into war with Spain, creating a further menace to Spanish shipping. The effort to neutralise this threat led to a disastrous attempt to invade England in 1588. This defeat led to a reform of fleet operations. The navy at this time was not a single operation but consisted of various fleets, made up mainly of armed merchantmen with escorts of royal ships. The Armada fiasco marked a turning point in naval warfare, where gunnery was now more important than ramming and boarding and so Spanish ships were equipped with purpose built naval guns. During the 1590s, the expansion of these fleets allowed a great increase in the overseas trade and massive increase in the importation of luxuries and silver. Nevertheless, inadequate port defences allowed an Anglo-Dutch force to raid Cadiz in 1596, and though unsuccessful in its objective of capturing the silver from the just returned convoy, was able to inflict great damage upon the city. Port defences at Cadiz were upgraded and all attempts to repeat the attack in the following centuries would fail.
Meanwhile, Spanish ships were able to step up operations in the English Channel, the North Sea and towards Ireland. They were able to capture many enemy ships, merchant and military, in the early decades of the 17th century and provide military supplies to Spanish armies in France and the Low Countries and to Irish rebels in Ireland.
By the middle of the 17th century, Spain had been drained by the vast strains of the Thirty Years' and related wars and began to slip into a slow decline. During the middle to late decades of the century, the Dutch, English and French were able to take advantage of Spain's shrinking, run-down and increasingly underequipped fleets. Military priorities in continental Europe meant that naval affairs were increasingly neglected. The Dutch took control of the smaller islands of the Caribbean, while England conquered Jamaica and France the western part of Santo Domingo. These territories became bases for raids on Spanish New World ports and shipping by pirates and privateers. The Spanish concentrated their efforts in keeping the most important islands, such as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the majority of Santo Domingo, while the system of treasure fleets, despite being greatly diminished, was rarely defeated in safely conveying its freight of silver and Asian luxuries across the Atlantic to Europe. Only two such convoys were ever lost to enemy action with their cargo, one to a Dutch fleet in 1628 and another to an English fleet in 1656. A third convoy was destroyed at anchor by another English attack in 1657, but it had already unloaded its treasure.
By the time of the wars of the Grand Alliance (1688-97) and the Spanish Succession (1702-14), the Habsburg regime had decided that it was more cost effective to rely on allied fleets, Anglo-Dutch and French respectively, than to invest in its own fleets.
The War of the Spanish Succession arose after the establishment on the Spanish throne of a House of Bourbon king, following the extinction of the Spanish Habsburg line. The internal division between supporters of a Habsburg and those of a Bourbon king led to a civil war and ultimately to the loss of Sicily, Sardinia, Menorca and Gibraltar. Gibraltar and Menorca were occupied by British forces fighting under the Spanish flag of Habsburg contender Charles VI. Menorca was ultimately surrendered to Spain years later. During the War of Spanish Succession, Spain's possessions in the Netherlands and mainland Italy were also ceded.
Attempting to reverse the losses of the previous war, in the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–20) the Spanish navy successfully convoyed armies to invade Sicily and Sardinia, but the escort fleet was destroyed by the British in the Battle of Cape Passaro and the Spanish invasion army was defeated in Italy by the Austrians. A major program to renovate and reorganise the run-down navy was begun. A secretaría (ministry) of the army and navy had been established by the Bourbon regime as early as 1714; which centralized the command and administration of the different fleets. Following the war of Quadruple Alliance, a program of rigorous standardization was introduced in ships, operations, and administration. Given the needs of its empire, Spanish warship designs tended to be more orientated towards long-range escort and patrol duties than for battle. A major reform of the Spanish navy was initiated, updating its ships and administration, which was helped by French and Italian experts, although Spaniards, most notably Antonio Castaneta, soon rose to prominence in this work, which made Spain a leader in warship design and quality again, as was demonstrated by ships like the Princesa. A major naval yard was established at Havana, enabling the navy to maintain a permanent force in the Americas for the defence of the colonies and the suppression of piracy and smuggling.
During the War of the Polish Succession (1733–38), a renewed attempt to regain the lost Italian territories for the Bourbon dynasty was successful; with the French as allies and the British and Dutch neutral, Spain launched a campaign by sea and retook Sicily and southern Italy from Austria. In the War of Jenkins' Ear, the navy showed it was able to maintain communications with the American colonies and resupply Spanish forces in Italy in the face of British naval opposition. The navy played an important part in the decisive Battle of Cartagena de Indias in modern-day Colombia, where a massive British invasion fleet and army were defeated by a smaller Spanish force commanded by able strategist Blas de Lezo. This Spanish victory prolonged Spain's supremacy in the Americas until the early 19th century. The program of naval renovation was continued and by the 1750s the Spanish navy had outstripped the Dutch to become the third most powerful in the world, behind only those of Britain and France.
Joining France against Britain near the end of the Seven Years' War (1756–63), the navy failed to prevent the British capturing Havana, during which the Spanish squadron present was also captured. In the American War of Independence (1775–83), the Spanish navy was essential to the establishment, in combination with the French and Dutch navies, of a numerical advantage that stretched British naval resources. They played a vital role, along with the French and Dutch, in maintaining military supplies to the American rebels. The navy also played a key role in the Spanish army led operations that defeated the British in Florida. The bulk of the purely naval combat on the allied side fell to the French navy, although Spain achieved lucrative successes with the capture of two great British convoys meant for the resupply of British forces and loyalists in North America. Joint operations with France resulted in the capture of Menorca but failed in the siege of Gibraltar.
Having initially opposed France in the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802), Spain changed sides in 1796, but defeat by the British a few months later in the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) and Trinidad (1798) was followed by the blockade of the main Spanish fleet in Cadiz. The run down of naval operations had as much to do with the confused political situation in Spain as it had to do with the blockade. The British blockade of Spain's ports was of limited success and an attempt to attack Cadiz was defeated; ships on special missions and convoys successfully evaded the Cadiz blockade and other ports continued to operate with little difficulty, but the main battle fleets were largely inactive. The blockade was lifted with the Peace of Amiens 1802. The war recommenced in 1804 and ended in 1808 when the Spain and the United Kingdom became allied against Napoleon. As in the first part, Cadiz was blockaded and Spanish naval activity was minimal. The most notable event was Spanish involvement in the Battle of Trafalgar under French leadership. This resulted in the Spanish navy losing eleven ships-of-the-line or over a quarter of its line-of-battle ships. After Spain became allied with the United Kingdom in 1808 in its war of independence, the Spanish navy joined the war effort against Napoleon.
The 1820s saw the loss of most of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. With the empire greatly reduced in size and Spain divided and unstable after its own war of independence, the navy lost its importance and shrank greatly.
The first new steam-driven vessels were purchased from Mexico in 1846. These included two iron-clad frigates, the Guadalupe and the Moctezuma, acquired from the UK in 1842, and a third vessel delivered in 1843. They were sold to Spanish authorities in Cuba by General Antonio López de Santa Anna, in order to raise funds for Mexico's defense from the U.S. invasion in 1846-1848. The Spanish christened the vessels "Castilla" and "León."
However, in the 1850s and 1860s, particularly under the prime-ministership of General O'Donnell, significant investments were made in the Spanish naval squadrons of the Pacific. A new steam-powered naval squadron sailed around the Pacific escorting a Spanish scientific expedition and unfortunately became entangled in what has been billed the First War of the Pacific from 1864 to 1871. During the conflict, the Spanish massed a fleet of 15 vessels to combat the combined navies of Peru, Chile, and Ecuador.
The 1890s saw the Spanish Navy gain several armored cruisers—important for maintaining connection with the Spanish Empire's remaining colonies—including the Emperador Carlos V . As of 1896, according to the plans of Admiral José María Beránger, there were three naval divisions based at Cadiz, Ferrol, and Cartagena. Each division was composed of ironclads, in addition to auxiliary squadrons for defense of the Spanish coastline. That year the Armada consisted of one battleship, eight cruisers of the first class, six of the second class, and nine of the third class, as well as 38 torpedo craft. There were an additional ten vessels under construction. As of 1896 there were 1,002 officers in the navy, along with 725 mechanics, 14,000 sailors, and 9,000 marines. Their numbers were maintained by conscription of the seafaring population.
During the Spanish–American War in 1898, a badly supported and equipped Spanish fleet of four armored cruisers and two destroyers was overwhelmed by numerically and technically superior forces (three new battleships, one new second class battleship, and one large armored cruiser) as it tried to break out of an American blockade in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Admiral Cervera's squadron was overrun in an attempt to break a powerful American blockade off Cuba.
In the Philippines, a squadron, made up of aging ships, including some obsolete cruisers, had already been sacrificed in a token gesture in Manila Bay. The Battle of Manila Bay took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish–American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón. The engagement took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. This war marked the end for the Spanish Navy as a global maritime force.
At the end of the 19th century, the Spanish Navy adopted the Salve Marinera , a hymn to the Virgin Mary as Stella Maris, as its official anthem.
During the Rif War in Morocco, the Spanish navy conducted operations along the coast, including the Alhucemas landing in 1925, the first air-naval landing of the world. At that time, the Navy developed a Naval Aviation branch, the Aeronáutica naval.
In 1931, following the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, the Navy of the Spanish Kingdom became the Spanish Republican Navy. Admiral Aznar's casual comment: "Do you think it was a little thing what happened yesterday, that Spain went to bed as a monarchy and rose as a republic" became instantly famous, going quickly around Madrid and around Spain, making people accept the fact and setting a more relaxed mood.The Spanish Republican Navy introduced a few changes in the flags and ensigns, as well as in the navy officer rank insignia. The executive curl (La coca) was replaced by a golden five-pointed star and the royal crown of the brass buttons and of the officers' breastplates (La gola) became a mural crown.
The Spanish Republican Navy became divided after the coup of July 1936 that led to the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). The fleet's two small dreadnoughts, one heavy cruiser, one large destroyer and half a dozen submarines and auxiliary vessels were lost in the course of the conflict.
Like the rest of the Spanish armed forces, the Spanish Navy maintained Franco's policy of neutrality during World War II.
Since the mid-20th century, the Spanish Navy began a process of reorganization to once again become one of the major navies of the world. After the development of the Baleares-class frigates based on the US Navy's Knoxclass, the Spanish Navy embraced the American naval doctrine.Spain became a member of NATO in 1982 and the Armada Española has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations, from SFOR to Haiti and other locations around the world. Today's Armada is a modern navy with a carrier group, a modern strategic amphibious ship (which has recently replaced a dedicated aircraft carrier), modern frigates (F-100 class) with the Aegis Combat System, F-80-class frigates, minesweepers, new S-80-class submarines, amphibious ships and various other ships, including oceanographic research ships.
The Armada's special operations and unconventional warfare capability is embodied in the Naval Special Warfare Command (Mando de Guerra Naval Especial), which is under the direct control of the Admiral of the Fleet. The unit in charge of special operations is the Naval Special Warfare Force (Fuerza de Guerra Naval Especial), which is a merge of the previous Special Operations Unit (Unidad de Operaciones Especiales (UOE)) and the SpecialCombat Diver Unit (Unidad Especial de Buceadores de Combate (UEBC)). This unit is trained in maritime counter-terrorism, specialized combat diving and swimming, coastal infiltration, ship boarding, direct action, special reconnaissance, hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolitions.
Armada officers receive their education at the Spanish Naval Academy (ENM). They are recruited through two different methods:
| Surface Fleet |
Spanish Naval Air Arm
Spanish Navy Marines
| History of the Armada |
Future of the Armada
| Current Fleet |
| Structure of the Armada |
Academy of Naval Engineers
Officer naval academy
Officer ranks of the Armada
Subordinate to the Spanish Chief of Naval Staff, stationed in Madrid, are four area commands: the Cantabrian Maritime Zone with its headquarters at Ferrol on the Atlantic coast; the Straits Maritime Zone with its headquarters at San Fernando near Cadiz; the Mediterranean Maritime Zone with its headquarters at Cartagena; and the Canary Islands Maritime Zone with its headquarters at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Operational naval units are classified by mission and assigned to either the combat forces, the protective forces, or the auxiliary forces. Combat forces are given the tasks of conducting offensive and defensive operations against potential enemies and for assuring maritime communications. Their principal vessels include a carrier group, naval aircraft, transports, landing vessels, submarines, and missile-armed fast attack craft. Protective forces have the mission of securing maritime communications over both ocean and coastal routes, securing the approaches to ports and maritime terminals. Their principal components are frigates, corvettes, and minesweepers. It also has marine units for the defense of naval installations. Auxiliary forces are responsible for transportation and provisioning at sea and has diverse tasks like coast guard operations, scientific work, and maintenance of training vessels. In addition to supply ships and tankers, the force included destroyers and a large number of patrol craft.
Until February 2013, when it was decommissioned because of budget cuts,the second largest vessel of the Armada was the aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias, which entered service in 1988 after completing sea trials. Built in Spain, it was designed with a "ski-jump" takeoff deck. Its complement was 29 AV-8 Harrier II vertical (or short) takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft or 16 helicopters designed for antisubmarine warfare and to support marine landings.
As of 2012, the Armada has a strength of 20,800 personnel.
The Infantería de Marina is the marine infantry of the Spanish Navy, and the oldest marine corps in existence in the world. It has a strength of 11,500 troops and is divided into base defense forces and landing forces. One of the three base defense battalions is stationed with each of the Navy headquarters. "Groups" (midway between battalions and regiments) are stationed in Madrid and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Tercio (fleet — regiment equivalent) is available for immediate embarkation and based out of San Fernando. Its principal weapons include light tanks, armored personnel vehicles, self-propelled artillery, and TOW and Dragon antitank missiles.
As of 2018, there are approximately 138 vessels in service within the Navy, including minor auxiliary vessels. A breakdown includes an amphibious assault ship (also used as an aircraft carrier), amphibious transport docks, frigates, submarines, mine countermeasure vessels, patrol vessels and a number of auxiliary ships. The total displacement of the Spanish Navy is approximately 220,000 tonnes.
The Spanish Naval Air Arm constitutes the naval aviation branch of the Spanish Navy.
|McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II||USA/UK||Jet||Multi-role||1987||13|
|Agusta-Bell AB 212||USA/Italy||Rotorcraft||Utility||1974||7|
|Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King||USA||Rotorcraft||Transport/AEW||1966||Phasing out 2020||10||3 AEW|
|Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk||USA||Rotorcraft||ASW||1988||SH-60B||12|
|NHI NH90||Europe||Rotorcraft||Utility||2021||NH-90 TTH||7 on order|
|Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk||USA||Rotorcraft||ASW||2020||SH-60F||6||ex-US Navy|
The officer ranks of the Spanish Navy are as follows below, (for a comparison with other NATO ranks, see Ranks and Insignia of NATO). Midshipmen are further divided into 1st and 2nd Classes and Officer Cadets 3rd and 4th Classes respectively.
|NATO code||OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D)||Student officer|
|Capitán general||Almirante general||Almirante||Vice almirante||Contra almirante||Capitán de navío||Capitán de fragata||Capitán de corbeta||Teniente de navío||Alférez de navío||Alférez de fragata||Guardiamarina 2||Guardiamarina 1||Alumno 2||Alumno 1|
|Suboficial mayor||Subteniente||Brigada||Sargento primero||Sargento||Cabo mayor||Cabo primero||Cabo||Marinero de primera||Marinero|
The article Spanish Marine Infantry includes the rank insignia descriptions for this part of the Navy.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
The Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) is the naval force of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its origins date back to the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), the war of independence from the House of Habsburg who ruled over the Habsburg Netherlands.
The Argentine Navy is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force.
The Battle of Vigo Bay, also known as the Battle of Rande, was a naval engagement fought on 23 October 1702 during the opening years of the War of the Spanish Succession. The engagement followed an Anglo-Dutch attempt to capture the Spanish port of Cádiz in September in an effort to secure a naval base in the Iberian Peninsula. From this station the Allies had hoped to conduct operations in the western Mediterranean Sea, particularly against the French at Toulon. The amphibious assault, however, had proved a disaster, but as Admiral George Rooke retreated home in early October, he received news that the Spanish treasure fleet from America, laden with silver and merchandise, had entered Vigo Bay in northern Spain. Philips van Almonde convinced Rooke to attack the treasure ships, despite the lateness of the year and the fact that the vessels were protected by French ships-of-the-line.
The Portuguese Navy is the naval branch of the Portuguese Armed Forces which, in cooperation and integrated with the other branches of the Portuguese military, is charged with the military defense of Portugal.
In the Battle of Cape Finisterre off Galicia, Spain, the British fleet under Admiral Robert Calder fought an indecisive naval battle against the combined Franco-Spanish fleet which was returning from the West Indies. Failing to prevent the joining of French Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve's fleet to the squadron of Ferrol and to strike the shattering blow that would have freed Great Britain from the danger of an invasion, Calder was later court-martialled and severely reprimanded for his failure and for avoiding the renewal of the engagement on 23 and 24 July. At the same time, in the aftermath Villeneuve elected not to continue on to Brest, where his fleet could have joined with other French ships to clear the English Channel for an invasion of Great Britain.
The Action of 15 July 1798 was a minor naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought off the Spanish Mediterranean coast by the Royal Navy ship of the line HMS Lion under Captain Manley Dixon and a squadron of four Spanish Navy frigates under Commodore Don Felix O'Neil. Lion was one of several ships sent into the Western Mediterranean by Vice-Admiral Earl St Vincent, commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet based at the Tagus in Portugal during the late spring of 1798. The Spanish squadron was a raiding force that had sailed from Cartagena in Murcia seven days earlier, and was intercepted while returning to its base after an unsuccessful cruise. Although together the Spanish vessels outweighed the British ship, individually they were weaker and Commodore O'Neil failed to ensure that his manoeuvrees were co-ordinated. As a result, one of the frigates, Santa Dorotea, fell out of the line of battle and was attacked by Lion.
The Assault on Cadiz was a part of a protracted naval blockade of the Spanish port of Cadiz by the Royal Navy, which comprised the siege and the shelling of the city as well as an amphibious assault on the port itself from June to July 1797. After the battle of Cape Saint Vincent the British fleet led by Lord Jervis and Sir Horatio Nelson had appeared in the Gulf of Cadiz. During the first days of June the city was bombarded, but causing slight damage to the Spanish batteries, navy and city. Nelson's objective was to force the Spanish admiral Jose Mazarredo to leave the harbour with the Spanish fleet. Mazarredo prepared an intelligent response and the Spaniards began to build gunboats and small ships to protect the entrance of the harbour from the British. By the first days of July, after a series of failed attacks led by Rear-Admiral Nelson, and with the British ships taking huge fire from the Spanish forts and batteries, the British withdraw and the siege was lifted. The naval blockade, however, lasted until 1802.
The Action of 9 August 1780 was a naval engagement of the Anglo-Spanish War, in which a Spanish fleet, led by Admiral Luis de Córdova y Córdova, along with a squadron of French ships, encountered a large British convoy. The Spanish and French force captured almost all the British vessels, which dealt a severe blow to the commerce of Great Britain.
The Action of 25 January 1797 was a minor naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought in the Gulf of Cádiz. The Spanish third-rate ship of the line San Francisco de Asís was attacked and pursued for several hours by a British squadron of three fifth-rates frigates and a sixth-rate corvette under George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway. After an intermittent but fierce exchange of fire, the British warships, badly damaged, were eventually forced to withdraw. The San Francisco de Asís, which suffered only minor damage, was able to return to Cádiz without difficulties. The commander of the ship, Captain Alonso de Torres y Guerra, was promoted for his success.
The Battle of Orbetello, also known as the Battle of Isola del Giglio, was a major naval engagement of the Franco-Spanish War of 1635. It was fought on 14 June 1646 off the Spanish-ruled town of Orbetello, on the coast of Tuscany, Italy, between a French fleet led by Admiral Armand de Maillé, Marquis of Brézé, and a Spanish fleet commanded by Miguel de Noronha, 4th Count of Linhares sent to break the blockade of Orbetello and relieve the town, besieged since 12 May by a French army under the command of Prince Thomas of Savoy. The Battle of Orbetello was tactically very unusual, since it was fought by sailing ships towed by galleys in a light breeze.
The action of 18 February 1639 was a naval battle of the Eighty Years' War fought off Dunkirk between a Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral Maarten Tromp and the Spanish Dunkirk Squadron under Miguel de Horna. Horna, who had orders to join with his ships Admiral Antonio de Oquendo's fleet at A Coruña, escorted at the same time a transport convoy carrying 2,000 Walloon soldiers to Spain, where they were needed. The attempt to exit Dunkirk was done in sight of the Dutch blockading squadron of Maarten Tromp. A 4-hour battle ensued and Horna was forced to retreat into Dunkirk leaving behind two of his galleons, whilst another ran aground. Despite his success in stopping the sortie, many of Tromp's ships suffered heavy damage, and the Dutch Admiral was forced to abandon the blockade. Therefore, De Horna, after repairing his squadron, was able to accomplish his mission.
Don Jose de Mazarredo Salazar de Muñatones y Gortázar Order of Santiago was a Spanish naval commander, cartographer, ambassador, astronomer and professor of naval tactics. He is considered to be one of the best Spanish naval commanders of all time.
The Action of 26 April 1797 was a minor naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars in which a Spanish convoy of two frigates was trapped and defeated off the Spanish town of Conil de la Frontera by British ships of the Cadiz blockade. The British vessels, the ship of the line HMS Irresistible and the Fifth-rate frigate HMS Emerald, were significantly more powerful than the Spanish frigates, which were on the last stage of a voyage carrying treasure from Havana, Cuba, to the Spanish fleet base of Cadiz.
The Croisière de Bruix was the principal naval campaign of the year 1799 during the French Revolutionary Wars. The expedition began in April 1799 when the bulk of the French Atlantic Fleet under Vice-Admiral Étienne Eustache Bruix departed the base at Brest, evading the British Channel Fleet which was blockading the port and tricking the commander Admiral Lord Bridport into believing their true destination was Ireland. Passing southwards, the French fleet narrowly missed joining with an allied Spanish Navy squadron at Ferrol and was prevented by an easterly gale from uniting with the main Spanish fleet at Cádiz before entering the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean was under British control following the destruction of the French Mediterranean Fleet at the Battle of the Nile in August 1798, and a British fleet nominally under Admiral Earl St Vincent was stationed there. Due however to St. Vincent's ill-health, operational control rested with Vice-Admiral Lord Keith. As Keith sought to chase down the French, the Spanish fleet followed Bruix into the Mediterranean before being badly damaged in a gale and sheltering in Cartagena.
HMS Carmen, was the Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora del Carmen, built in 1770 at Ferrol. The British Royal Navy captured her on 6 April 1800 and took her into service as HMS Carmen. She served in the Mediterranean until she returned to Britain in 1801. There the Admiralty had her laid-up in ordinary. She was sold in December.
Blas de Lezo (F-103) is a Spanish Navy guided missile frigate of the Alvaro de Bazan (F100) class. This is the third ship of the F-100 class of air defense frigates in the Spanish Navy. It was named after the 18th century Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo. The ship was built by Izar Shipbuilding in Ferrol, Spain and entered into service in 2004.
Méndez Núñez (F-104) is an Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate of the Spanish Navy. She is the fourth ship of class, entering service in 2006. She is named after the 19th century Spanish Rear admiral Casto Méndez Núñez.
The Battle of the Levant Convoy was a naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars fought on 7 October 1795. During the battle, a powerful French squadron surprised a valuable British convoy from the Levant off Cape St Vincent on the coast of Portugal. The convoy was weakly defended, and although the small escort squadron tried to drive the French back, they were outmatched. In the ensuing action one of the British ships of the line and almost the entire convoy was overrun and captured. The French commander, Commodore Joseph de Richery, then retired to the neutral Spanish port of Cádiz, where he came under blockade.
Richery's expedition was a French naval operation during 1795 and 1796 as part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The operation was led by Commodore Joseph de Richery and comprised two separate cruises; the first was an operation off Cádiz in Southern Spain in which Richery attacked and defeated a large British merchant convoy with a weak escort, taking many prizes. Forced to anchor at Cádiz, the French squadron was subsequently blockaded in the port for almost a year. Richery was enabled to escape in August 1796 by a Spanish fleet, and went on to attack British fisheries off Newfoundland and Labrador before returning to France having inflicted severe damage to British Atlantic trade.
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