Spanish Navy’s Navantia-built frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón arrived in Perth, Australia with the aim of integrating into the Royal Australian Navy.
Apart from training and navy to navy engagements, another reason for the F-100 frigate to visit Australia was the fact that Spanish shipbuilder Navantia is one of the designers shortlisted for the design of the Australian Navy’s Future Frigate that will replace the existing Anzac-class frigates.
Similarly to the Italian Navy’s Bergamini-class frigate ITS Carabiniere which arrived in Australia last month showcasing Fincantieri’s FREMM frigate design, ESPS Cristóbal Colón will promote Navantia’s F-100 design.
Cristóbal Colón is expected to spend the next 120 days integrated into the Royal Australian Navy.
During the 10,300-mile transit towards Australia, the F-105 participated in NATO’s anti-terrorist operation Sea Guardian and the EU operation Sophia against human trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea. After crossing the Suez Canal, Cristóbal Colón also took part in the counter-piracy operation Atalanta in the Indian Ocean.
The transit was also used to conduct combined exercises with the navies of Italy, Saudi Arabia, India and Malaysia with port calls in Jeddah, Mumbai and Singapore.
After arriving at Rockingham on February 19, Cristóbal Colón was greeted by the Australian Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer. During the welcoming ceremony, the operational command of the ship was officially transferred to the Royal Australian Navy which meant that as of February 19, the F-105 was fully integrated into the RAN.
The ship will remain in Rockingham for a few days participating in the coordination meetings prior to the two-week CJTF exercise Ocean Explorer 17 to be conducted in Western Australia. This Combined Joint Task Force will have different naval, air and land elements from Australia, New Zeeland, the United States and Spain.
This will be the first of a series of advanced exercises intended to enhance the strategic association and interoperability between the Spanish Navy and the RAN. The F-105 will also provide training to the crews of the new Hobart-class anti-air warfare destroyers (AWD). To this end, forty RAN servicemen will integrate into the crew of the Spanish frigate.
The Cristóbal Colón is scheduled to visit the ports of Fremantle, Adelaide, Sidney, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.