U.S., Spain Agree to Host Two More Warships in Rota

May 9, 2023 4:34 PM
Seaman Dyson Smith mans the rails aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) as the ship departs Naval Station Rota, Spain, April 22, 2023. US Navy Photo

Spain and the United States took the next steps in increasing the number of U.S. guided-missile destroyers based in Rota.

Under the new agreement, the U.S. can host six naval warships at Naval Station Rota, Spain, an increase of two. The agreement between the two countries follows a commitment last summer to allow the U.S. to increase the number of ships, Reuters reported.

U.S. Ambassador to Spain Julissa Reynoso and Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles signed the agreement Monday, according to the U.S. embassy in Spain.

“Our Defense Cooperation Agreement is more than a security document, it is the reflection of a relationship based on shared beliefs: that democracy is the best system of government, that anyone in any part of the world can enjoy the guarantees and promises that human rights grant, and that the international order based on law is the best guarantee of peace and security,” Robles said in the release.

The Navy has not said what ships it will send to Rota. USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), USS Bulkeley (DDG-84), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) are currently based in Rota as part of Forward Deployed Naval Force-Europe (FDNF-E).

In 2022, Paul Ignatius (DDG-17) replaced USS Ross (DDG-71), while Bulkeley replaced USS Porter (DDG-78).

The Navy referred further questions to the U.S. embassy in Spain and the State Department.

The Biden administration first announced that the U.S. would send more ships to Rota in June 2022, ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid, USNI News previously reported.

The summer announcement came five months after Russia invade Ukraine. Before the Russo-Ukraine war, warships based in Rota would sail in and out of the Black Sea. Turkey closed the Bosphorus Strait to non-Black Sea country warships following Russia’s invasion.

The U.S. sent the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, then the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group to the Mediterranean Sea as part of ongoing NATO deterrence missions following Russia’s invasion. The U.S. does not currently have a carrier strike group in the Mediterranean, according to the USNI News tracker.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), which departed Norfolk, Va., May 2 for its first worldwide deployment, is expected to continue the U.S. presence in the Mediterranean, USNI News previously reported.

The original four destroyers were sent to Rota starting in 2014 as part of the Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach to ballistic missile defense.

Working in conjunction with two land-based Aegis Ashore BMS sites, the destroyers were set to protect Europe from a rogue ballistic missile fired at the continent.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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