ESPS Cantabria has taken part in her final exercise as part of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet. The Spanish Armada ship was in high demand during exercise TRITON CENTENARY (TS13) part 2, and refuelled ships from participating nations.
TS13 was the final phase of the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review and involved 14 ships from Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Spain, Tonga and the USA.
During TS13 the ships exercised all facets of coalition maritime operations, including air defence, surface and anti-submarine warfare serials, ship maneuvering and station keeping, Replenishment at Sea and flying operations.
During the ten months that Cantabria has operated as part of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet, the Spanish ship has augmented Australia’s afloat logistic support capabilities. At the same time, the Spanish Armada has trialled Cantabria’s full range of capabilities, including the operating maintenance cycle of ships systems, and ship logistics and maintenance support.
The lessons learnt by each Navy will have a lasting impact, and will enhance the ability of the two Navies to work together in the future.
During her time in Australian, over 230 Australian personnel embarked in Cantabria to learn about her systems, which are similar to those in the LHD and AWD.
Cantabria also provided many training opportunities for Australiam personnel to progress their individual qualifications. Lieutenant Nathan Smith spent time in Cantabria working towards his Grade 2 Helicopter Control Officer (HCO) qualification.
“It was a treat to work onboard Cantabria. I was training under the guidance of Cantabria’s HCO whilst 723 SQN were embarked. At times there were challenges communicating with the Flight Deck Crew whose second language is English. Despite the language barrier, it was a pleasure and a great opportunity to operate with such a professional ship,” said Lieutenant Smith.
Armada personnel also had the chance to experience life in the Royal Australian Navy.
Marinero Alba Miguens Bravo cross decked onto HMAS Ballarat and says that she was thankful for the opportunity and noticed some interesting operational differences.
‘My job on Cantabria is in the bridge where I am the helmsman. I take fixes and conduct ship to ship communication with flashing lights and flag work. After being on Ballarat, I noticed the boatswains and communicators do a combination of these jobs.”
“We don’t have Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) onboard in the Spanish navy, but I really like the idea. It is something I would like us to have in the Armada,” said Marinero Bravo.
The combat support ship is now preparing to say her final farewell to the Royal Australian Navy and will depart Garden Island, Sydney on the 1st of November for her homeport of Ferrol, Spain.
Press Release, October 24, 2013; Image: Australian Navy