Spanish ESPS Numancia, based at Naval Station Rota, left her homeport in the morning of January 18 to relieve the frigate Canarias which was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea with EUNAVFOR’s Operation Sophia.
The frigate sailed off to her area of operations after a ceremony which was presided over by the Admiral of the Fleet, Francisco Javier Franco Suanzes.
Based on the U.S. Navy’s Oliver Hazard Perry class design, ESPS Numancia is the third of six Spanish-built Santa Maria-class frigates. It was laid down in 1986, launched in 1987 and entered service in November 1989. The frigate previously concluded two deployments to EU Naval Forces missions and was the mission flagship back in 2009.
ESPS Numancia will relieve her sister ship, the ESPS Canarias, which has been deployed to Operation Sophia since October 5, 2015. During her deployment to the Central Mediterranea Sea, ESPS Canarias participated in rescue operations that saved several thousand lives on the open sea.
The EU naval operation against human smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean called EUNAVFOR MED/Operation Sophia, was launched June 22, 2015, with the main focus on contributing to disrupt the business model of the smugglers and therefore prevent more loss of lives.