Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias

The Príncipe de Asturias (R-11), originally named Almirante Carrero Blanco, is an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

, the flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 of the Spanish Navy
Spanish Navy
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...

. She was built in Bazan's Shipyards
Navantia, formerly Bazán or IZAR, is a Spanish shipbuilding firm, which offers its services to both military and civil sector. It is the fifth largest shipbuilder in Europe, and the ninth largest in the world with shipyards all over Spain....

 and delivered to the Spanish Navy on 30 May 1988.

Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 has operated aircraft carriers since the 1920s, initially with the seaplane tender
Seaplane tender
A seaplane tender is a ship that provides facilities for operating seaplanes. These ships were the first aircraft carriers and appeared just before the First World War.-History:...

 SPS Dédalo (1922) and later the multi-role light carrier
Light aircraft carrier
A light aircraft carrier is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only ½ to ⅔ the size of a full-sized or "fleet" carrier.-History:In World War II, the...

 SPS Dédalo
Spanish aircraft carrier Dédalo
Dédalo was the first Spanish aircraft carrier and the second aviation ship in the Spanish Navy . She remained the fleet's flagship until the Principe de Asturias replaced her...

, which was formerly the US Navy's World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 light carrier USS Cabot. The SPS Dédalo has been replaced as the navy's fleet flagship by the Principe de Asturias.

The ship is permanently assigned to the Alpha Group, comprising the carrier and six Santa Maria class frigate
Santa Maria class frigate
The Santa Maria class of frigates are theSpanish Navy's designation for six locally-built warships based on theOliver Hazard Perry-class frigatesof the United States Navy....

s (a Spanish version of the USN Oliver Hazard Perry
Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate
The Oliver Hazard Perry class is a class of frigates named after the American Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the naval Battle of Lake Erie...

 FFGs). Other vessels such as logistic ships, tankers and corvettes are frequently assigned to the Group when required. Principe de Asturias and the Alpha Group have participated in peace support operations in the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...


The ship is mostly seen pier-side at Naval Station Rota, Spain
Naval Station Rota, Spain
Naval Station Rota is a Spanish naval base commanded by a Spanish Vice Admiral and fully funded by the United States of America. Located in Rota, Spain, and near the Spanish town of El Puerto de Santa María, NavSta Rota is the largest American military community in Spain and houses US Navy...



The design is basically that of the initial US Navy's Sea Control Ship
Sea Control Ship
The Sea Control Ship was a small aircraft carrier developed and conceptualized by the United States Navy under Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt during the 1970s. Currently the term refers to naval vessels that can perform similar duties. The SCS was intended as an escort vessel, providing...

 design of the 1970s, modified with a ski-jump ramp added to better enable V/STOL aircraft takeoff. Constructed by the National Company Bazan (then Empresa Nacional Bazán, now Navantia
Navantia, formerly Bazán or IZAR, is a Spanish shipbuilding firm, which offers its services to both military and civil sector. It is the fifth largest shipbuilder in Europe, and the ninth largest in the world with shipyards all over Spain....

) in their shipyard at Ferrol, Principe de Asturias was delivered to the Navy on 30 May 1988. The construction process had begun eleven years previously, on 29 May 1977. The processing of the steel began on 1 March 1978 and the keel was laid on 8 October 1979. On 22 May 1982, in a ceremony presided over by Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos I |Italy]]) is the reigning King of Spain.On 22 November 1975, two days after the death of General Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos was designated king according to the law of succession promulgated by Franco. Spain had no monarch for 38 years in 1969 when Franco named Juan Carlos as the...

, the launch took place, with Queen Sofía of Spain
Queen Sofía of Spain
Queen Sofía of Spain is the wife of King Juan Carlos I of Spain.-Early life and family:Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark was born in Psychiko, Athens, Greece on 2 November 1938, the eldest child of the King Paul of Greece and his wife, Queen Frederika , a former princess of Hanover...

 as the ship's sponsor. The ship made her first sea trials in November 1987.

The Thai warship HTMS Chakri Naruebet, delivered in 1997, is based on the Spanish ship's design.


The self-defense armament includes four close defense Meroka
Meroka CIWS
The Meroka CIWS is a Spanish Navy 12 barrelled 20 mm CIWS, using twelve Oerlikon 20 mm/120 guns mounted in 2 rows of 6 guns each. The system's primary purpose is defence against anti-ship missiles, and other precision guided weapons. However it can also be employed against aircraft, ships...

 systems and six chaff
Chaff (radar countermeasure)
Chaff, originally called Window by the British, and Düppel by the Second World War era German Luftwaffe , is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of secondary...

 decoy launchers. For offensive weapons, the ship relies on the capabilities of her embarked aircraft. For anti-submarine defense, she relies upon the detection capacity and attacks of her ASW helicopters and accompanying frigate battle group.


The ship supports AV-8B Harrier II Bravo or AV-8B Harrier II Plus aircraft. The Harriers are armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 and AIM-120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM , is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-factor as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget...

 air-to-air missiles, AGM-88 HARM
The AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile is a tactical, air-to-surface missile designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems. It was originally developed by Texas Instruments as a replacement for the AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-78 Standard ARM system...

 anti-radiation missile
Anti-radiation missile
An anti-radiation missile is a missile which is designed to detect and home on an enemy radio emission source. Typically these are designed for use against an enemy radar, although jammers and even radios used for communication can also be targeted in this manner.- Air-to-Ground :Most ARM designs...

 and AGM-65 Maverick
AGM-65 Maverick
The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground tactical missile designed for close-air support. It is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities....

 air-to-ground missiles, in addition to GAU-12U cannon. The carrier also has facilities to support helicopters, usually Sikorsky Sea King SH-3H
H-3 Sea King
The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King is a twin-engined anti-submarine warfare helicopter. It served with the United States Navy and other forces, and continues to serve in many countries around the world. The Sea King has been built under license in Italy and Japan, and in the United Kingdom as the...

, Agusta AB-212 and Sikorsky SH-3 AEW (Airborne Early Warning
Airborne Early Warning
An airborne early warning and control system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack plane strikes...

) helicopters.

The ship supports a maximum of 29 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft with up to 12 on deck and 17 aircraft in the hangar. The hangar which measures 2,398 m² is accessed by two flight deck lifts. The 5,100 m² flight deck is 176 m in length. Operating V/STOL
Vertical and/or short take-off and landing is a term used to describe aircraft that are able to take-off or land vertically or on short runways. Vertical takeoff and landing describes craft which do not require runways at all...

aircraft, the carrier has the characteristic "ski-jump" (12° here), with the runway sightly off the longitudinal axis, tilted portside.

External links

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