The Spanish OPV ‘Tornado’ has arrived in Las Palmas Military Arsenal after a four-month deployment participating in operation ‘Atalanta’ fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean.
The welcoming ceremony on April 2 was presided over by the Chief of the Canary Islands Naval Command, Rear-admiral Manuel de la Puente.
The patrol boat had a complement of 83 people: 53 were crew members, 17 Air Unit personnel for the embarked AB-212 helicopter, an 11-strong Marine Corps Security Squad, a medical doctor and an interpreter.
Four and a half-month deployment
The ship set sail on November 14th from Las Palmas and headed towards Rota Naval Base to embark the AB-212 helicopter from the 3rd Aircraft Squadron. At the beginning of December, the ‘Tornado’ integrated into the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) relieving her sister ship ‘Meteoro’. This operation is tasked with the protection of World Food Program (WFP) ships and vulnerable shipping in the area, as well as strengthening maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters.
The Spanish OPV has actively participated in many operations, among them, the humanitarian and technical aid to a boat adrift, and numerous escorts and patrols in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The patrol boat has also visited many ports in the Horn of Africa promoting the development of local and regional capabilities.
The ‘Tornado’ was relieved by the ‘Relámpago’ on March 14th in the city of Djibouti. On that occasion, the ship welcomed on board the Spanish Minister of Defense and EURONAVFOR’s Commander.
Participation of other warships from Las Palmas Naval Station
The ‘Tornado’ is the fourth oceanic patrol vessel (BAM in its Spanish initials) that has participated in operation ‘Atalanta’ since its activation in 2008. The ship is under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Juan José Belizón and is the fourth ship of her class. The BAM concept (an oceanic patrol vessel) contemplates a state-of-the-art and multi-purpose ship with reduced maintenance and production costs, capable of operating not only in military missions, but also in search and rescue (SAR) operations, humanitarian aid, evacuations, counter-drug smuggling operations and the fight against sea pollution.
Press Release, April 3, 2014; Image: Spanish Navy