Admiral Jaime Muñoz-Delgado y Díaz del Rio
If deterrence and defense made up the Spanish Navy’s predominant role just over 30 years ago, a recent and progressive array of threats has forced its adaptation, redefining its roles and, as a result, increasing and diversifying operations, while maintaining deterrence and defense capabilities. In this sense, maritime-security operations stand out as our most resource-consuming role, with the Spanish Navy participating in counter-piracy, counter-trafficking, and illegal-immigration missions, under both international auspices and national jurisdiction. The Spanish Navy is also focusing its efforts on cooperative security operations, mainly on the African continent, where it fosters partnerships through mentoring and capability-building activities with different countries.
Obviously, the Spanish Navy must work hand in hand with allied and friendly countries under the umbrella of the United Nations, European Union, and NATO. We are currently involved in military operations such as Atalanta, Active Endeavour, and Ocean Shield, as well as in civilian missions such as EUCAP Nestor, demonstrating the importance of partnerships in cooperative maritime security.
The Spanish Navy is actively taking part in multilateral pooling and sharing, Smart Defense initiatives, and bilateral agreements, providing diverse capabilities for its allies. For example, Spain is a member of the 5+5 Defense Initiative, which, along with member states Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal, and Tunisia, seeks a common security in the western Mediterranean. The Spanish Navy also participates in Levrier, a counter-trafficking operation with the French Navy, as well as ballistic-missile-defense-related activities with the U.S. Navy, among other efforts.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning the ongoing operations that fall under national responsibility or are derived from individual diplomatic initiatives, such as cooperative-security operations with Mauritania, Senegal, and Cape Verde that include training at sea, mentoring, and capacity-building activities.
Spain’s focus on Africa can be justified by geostrategic considerations and threat perception. Of course, this posture is not shared completely by all our allies. Unlike in the past, where a clear threat was shared, in the future allies will likely be sensitive to different threats.
We always need to think jointly. As such, the Spanish Navy supports the joint arena as the best option to offer its capabilities to a variety of operations conducted by the Spanish armed forces, yet takes into account that the effectiveness of joint action relies on the performance of a single service. For example, the Navy works with the Spanish Air Force in Atalanta and with the Spanish Army in the national capability operation in Senegal.
To successfully accomplish this wide range of demanding operations, the just-commissioned Spanish Navy ships have been designed with common features: state-of-the-art technology, multipurpose use, reduced crew, and package module capabilities for various mission profiles (LPH Juan Carlos I and Meteoro-class patrol boats were born this way). Moreover, a relevant achievement is the recent approval to expand the first batch of Meteoro-class patrol boats and the remarkable advance in the new frigate F-110 development program. Finally, the new submarine, S-80 (in construction), will strengthen our command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, and maritime situational-awareness capabilities in sea-control missions as well as our defense and deterrence role.