ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Spanish and U.S. military personnel will march in formation during a pass and review with attending senior officers and dignitaries Sept. 25, to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the agreement to establish a joint U.S/Spanish naval facility on the Bay of Cadiz, Sept. 26, 1953.
Since the signing of the agreement, the development of Naval Station Rota has been a gradual and well planned process that actually began April 1, 1955. The facility was officially opened April 14, 1958, and three days later, the first ship anchored in port. More than 2,000 people participated in the construction of the base, most of who came from all parts of southern Spain.
Today, the state-of-the-art naval installation covers more than 6,000 acres and is a Spanish Naval Base, used jointly by Spain and the United States. It is commanded by Spanish Adm. Jose Enrique de Benito and is home to the Spanish Surface Fleet. Rota is headquarters for Commander, U.S. Naval Activities Spain, Capt. John Orem, who is also the commanding officer of the U.S. facilities. Twenty-seven U.S. tenant commands make Rota home, including Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 2, U.S. Marine Corps Security Force Company Europe, U.S. Naval Hospital Rota and the Air Force's 725th Air Mobility Squadron.
The U.S. facilities and services are wide-ranging, with the primary role of supporting the U.S. 6th Fleet and other units deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. Naval Station Rota's Supply Department and its tenant commands provide fuel, oil, ammunition, mail, food and spare parts to 6th Fleet personnel, ships and aircraft operating in the region. U.S. Naval Station Rota Supply Officer Cmdr. Joseph Yudiski said, "Rota is a logistics base and that coupled with its strategic location, makes it vital when supplying the deployed fleet."
Adm. Jose Antonio Balbas Otal, Adm. of the Spanish Fleet, and Adm. Gregory G. Johnson, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe, are the guests of honor. Rear Adm. Lewis Crenshaw, commander Navy Region Europe, will also attend the official ceremonies scheduled for the morning of Sept. 25.
The spirit of cooperation and friendship between the Spanish and Americans was the cornerstone in building the strong relationship enjoyed today.
"The U.S./Spanish cooperation over the last 50 years here in Andalusia has provided significant benefits for both nations and has created a strategic partnership and lasting personal friendships," said Orem.
"It is my strong desire to attend the 100th anniversary of the base, and it is my guess that the role of the military 50 years from now will be very different; however, the cooperation of the Americans and Spanish will be every bit as important to the international community as it is today," he continued.
The Naval Station runway opened on Oct. 4, 1956 when His Royal Highness Prince Don Alfonso de Orleans and then U.S. Ambassador, John Davis Lodge, landed in Rota. The Naval Station was named Naval Air Station Rota until 1957, when it was designated as a Naval Station with the expansion of the port facilities in 1966.
Some of the improvements to the port included building a seawall, which enclosed the port area and protected the ships moored there. Until then, the piers were open to the Bay of Cadiz with no protection. Ten thousand cement tetra pods were used in the construction of the seawall in 1966, and the four-legged colossus has become the official symbol for the Naval Station and can be seen standing proud all over the base. Throughout the 60s and 70s, several U.S. warships were home ported in Rota, but currently, there are none stationed here.
Work has not stopped in Rota. On the contrary, U.S. Naval Station Rota is in the early stages of Rota Vision 21. The plan calls for the long-term recapitalization worth more than $500 million.
Rota Vision 21 provides a major revitalization of base facilities in addition to the ongoing current construction. Approximately $100 million and the award of about 50 construction and demolition contracts will transform the industrial area of the base between 2003 and 2005. The construction of a new U.S. headquarters operations building, Navy Exchange/Commissary mega mall, new security complex and new fire station will provide a significant upgrade to base facilities.
Assistant Public Works Officer Lt. Cmdr. Tim Liberatore said, "In addition to improvements in the U.S. core area and industrial complex, plans exist to rebuild the flight line and make considerable improvements to the port area."
According to Liberatore, Spanish contractors will complete the vast majority of the Naval Station Rota's recapitalization.
For related news, visit the Naval Station Rota, Spain Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/rota.