British Ambassador Piped Aboard As Royal Navy Visit Alicante

The Royal Navy visited Alicante this week, as the Type 23 frigate, HMS Kent, docked in the Spanish port.

The ship, which is the first to arrive in Spain, from the UK’s Carrier Strike Group is currently undergoing manoeuvres with NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group 2, which is under Spanish command.

The Carrier Strike Group is the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in 40 years  – a total of 9 ships, including the flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, carrying F35 fighter jets from the both the Fleet Air Arm and the United States Marine Corps are engaged on a global seven month deployment, with exercises with some 40 countries.

The frigate had already conducted exercises in the Atlantic with NATO navies, including the Spanish, whose own frigate, Méndez Núñez, she is laid up beside, in the port.

The crew of 185 personnel are now having a welcome break after their first month at sea, and will rejoin the Carrier Strike Group in two weeks.

Commander Matt Sykes said: “We have had a really good week with the Spanish Navy working as part of NATO’s standing Naval Forces. We’ve been operating as part of exercise Steadfast Defender, which is NATO’s largest exercise this year. We’ve done some exercises off the coast of Spain with the ship’s helicopter and with jets from the Spanish Air Force, and now we are here in Alicante, and grateful to the Spanish to allow us to come here with them.”

British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott welcomed the ship’s arrival – the first Royal Navy vessel to embark in Spain this year. “I am delighted that HMS Kent is visiting Spain at the start of the deployment of the UK’s new Carrier Strike Group,” said the ambassador.

“HMS Kent’s participation in NATO’s naval grouping under Spanish command, shows the flexibility and compatibility of our navies, and our joint work as close allies on European defence and security.”

The ship docked in Alicante on Tuesday and a reception was held yesterday, Wednesday 2nd June, for diplomatic, local and military dignitaries.

“When we sail from Alicante at the end of the week with the Spanish flagship Méndez Núñez, we will be going out into the Mediterranean in support of NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian,” explained Commander Sykes. “This operation provides maritime security on the southern flank of the Alliance, so it’s great for the UK to be contributing to that.”