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Below is a transcript of the interview:
CNO: Good morning. It’s an honor to be back in Rota, Spain. Spain remains one of our closest partners, particularly in the maritime. I’m joined here with Adm. Diaz this morning and I think we both agree that the global economy actually floats on seawater.
So the work that we do together in the High North, in the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Aden and beyond, is vitally important to keeping the sea lines open, the commerce flowing, and our economy strong. In the United States, we could not serve our own interests and that of our allies, without close interoperability with navies like the Spanish navy. The United States’ ability to have our destroyers forward-deployed in Spain is an exceptional opportunity for us to help keep those sea lines open and to work closely with our allies and partners in doing so. And I would also like to add, it is a rare opportunity for Americans to live in a beautiful place like Spain.
So on behalf of the Spanish navy, Adm. Diaz has joined me today to welcome the USS Bulkeley as our newest destroyer here in Rota, Spain, to be homeported here in Rota, Spain. We just visited with the ship, the crew could not be more happy to be here in Spain and to be joined by their families who will be living here with them. So, admiral, thank you so much for your partnership. Thank you for your friendship. And for the kindness of the Spanish people in welcoming the United States Navy here to your home soil.
Adm. Diaz: [translated from Spanish] Good morning. I’m Admiral Díaz Del Río, Admiral of the Spanish Fleet. I just want to say to the admiral “welcome to Spain” and to the USS Bulkeley commanding officer: “welcome to Spain, welcome to Rota too.”
Spain and the United States have an important and very close partnership, especially regarding their navies.
We are a maritime country, as the admiral has said just a moment ago; we are a country with a broad coastline, with two archipelagos of strategic relevance –such as the Cannaries and the Balearic Islands. As Adm. Gilday has pointed out, our country strongly depends on maritime security, as does our economy. This creates a bond among navy personnel, among allies and friendly navies, that leads to a very close partnership.
Welcome admiral, we understand and we know that your destroyers and their crews are very happy to be here with us. They have integrated perfectly and I believe that they won’t find a better place than Spain because our ports, our people are unique. We are grateful, friendly people and we take pride in being good hosts.
Capt. Harkin: Thank you Adm. Diaz, and CNO, thank you for visiting today and having us. The crew of the USS Bulkeley is extremely excited to continue our seventy year relationship with the Spanish navy here in Rota. This has been a long time coming for my crew and I, and we couldn’t be more excited to get here to port and to get to start this adventure that we’re looking forward to in Rota. We’re excited to be part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe and continue that fantastic reputation that they have working with our allies and partners here in the European theater as part of the NATO alliance. Thank you.
Audience: Can you comment on the latest in the discussions between the U.S. Navy and the Moroccan navy? How about the relationship between the U.S. Navy and the Spanish navy?
CNO: Thank you for your question. With respect to your question about Morocco, I have no insights on discussions between the U.S. and Moroccan government on anything that has to do with the Navy. I just – those are ongoing discussions – they just have not come down to my level.
With respect to your question about the relationship between the U.S. and Spanish navies, it’s rock solid. I could not be happier in terms of the strength of our two navies working together. And so, as an example, this ship that we brought to Rota today, the USS Bulkeley, has the latest and most modern capabilities in the world installed on that ship. We share much of our technology with the Spanish navy, who is equally installing the best capabilities that they can on their ships, so that together, we assure other NATO, other allies and partners within the NATO alliance and we sail strongly side by side.
I can’t think of a better partner to be on patrol with than the Spanish navy.
Audience: Can you discuss Rota’s facilities, including maintenance capabilities and quality of life facilities on base?
CNO: I would say that the capabilities here in Rota are first class. This morning, I was talking to Adm. Diaz about the maintenance capabilities here in this port – which are truly among the best in the world, in terms of timeliness, in terms of quality. So the ability of your skilled laborers to turn around these ships so that they can go back on patrol and to get the work done within schedule and then cost is really impressive. This is a great port for the United States Navy to operate out of.
From a personal standpoint, this morning, I had breakfast, my wife joined me here today from Washington D.C., and we had breakfast with some leaders, with some U.S. leaders and their spouses, including the commanding officer of USS Arleigh Burke and his wife. And they, to a person, couldn’t be happier about living [here] – being able to live with their families in Rota, Spain, to be attending schools, to joining you in church, to playing football on the pitch. They just couldn’t be happier. As I said earlier, it truly is a rare opportunity for us as Americans.
Audience: Any comment on the announcement of the future stationing of two additional U.S. destroyers in Rota?
CNO: So those discussions between our governments at the highest levels continue. At our level – at the fleet level with Admiral Diaz and myself and my counterpart in the Spanish navy – things are going very well in terms of cooperating. And so, as you would imagine, those conversations, dialogue between governments, continues at a very healthy and certainly at pace. And our focus here is on our ships, including the one that Capt. Harkin commands here, the Bulkeley, [that] is where our real focus is during this visit.
[In closing] Thank you very much and thank you for your partnership with the United States.
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