On June 5th Spanish F-100 frigate ‘Blas de Lezo’ departed from her home port in Ferrol and headed for Aksaz (Turkey), where she is scheduled to arrive on the 15th to become command ship of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) in the Mediterranean. On her way to Aksaz the ‘Blas de Lezo’ will call at Rota Naval Base and Souda (Crete).
The Spanish Navy rear-admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río will relieve the SNMG-2 Commander, the Italian rear-admiral Antonio Natale who, until now, held command of this task group on board the ‘San Marco’. Rear-admiral Díaz el Río will command the SNMG-2 until June 2014 supported by an international Staff made up of 9 officers and 4 NCOs.
This deployment (June-October 2013) will be the first of three scheduled rotations during the Spanish command of SNMG-2. The ‘Álvaro de Bazán’ (F-101) and the ‘Cristobal Colón’ (F-105) are the other warships selected for the subsequent two rotations.
During the period assigned, the ‘Blas de Lezo’ will participate in operation ‘Active Endeavour’, the main goal of which is to deter terrorist organizations from using the Mediterranean Sea, carrying out maritime security operations and enhancing maritime situational awareness.
The ship will also participate in different exercises organized by NATO and the Bulgarian Navy. Scheduled port-calls are: Istanbul (Turkey), Odessa (Ukraine), Bourgas and Varna (Bulgaria), a still undecided Italian port, Rota and Cartagena, where the ‘Blas de Lezo’ will be relieved as command ship by the ‘Álvaro de Bazán’.
‘Blas de Lezo’ has a complement of 180 men and women. Further personnel on board include the International Staff, the UNAEMB (Embarked Air Unit) to support helicopter operations, medical personnel and a Marine Corps Security Team.
Press release, June 10, 2013; Image: Spanish Navy