Spanish Defence Minister Hails “Magnificent Bilateral Relations” With US Fleet

The Spanish Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, has travelled to the Rota Naval Base in Cadiz, to visit the Spanish and American Naval forces stationed there.

“This visit is a symbol of the collaboration, the joint work in the world between two allied countries committed to democratic values,” said Robles on board the new US ship, which came to Rota in September 2020.

The minister took the opportunity to pay tribute “to all the men and women of the US Armed Forces who have died in peace missions around the world, paying a very high price, which is why we feel so close to them,” she said, recalling the recent homage paid in Spain to the Spanish soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

“Let the world know that Spain and the US are fully and completely committed to peace, values and democracy,” he stressed.

For his part, the US chargé d’affaires in Spain, Conrad Tribble, concurred with the minister on the good relations between the two nations, recalling “the 70 years of Spanish hospitality towards the US Armed Forces, here in Rota and in Morón”.

“Besides the operation,” he added, “we have more than 6,800 US military personnel and their families who call Spain their home,” representing an important “human dimension” to the relationship, and remarked, as an example, that the commander of one US destroyer had been born and raised in Rota, being the son of a US officer and a Spanish woman.

“We are friends, we are partners, we are allies,” Tribble concluded.

The minister pointed out that “all those who have been here feel Spanish and speak the language perfectly, and we will continue to do so”.

The chargé d’affaires also referred to the “considerable” economic dimension of the stay of US troops at Spanish bases: “it directly supports more than 5,000 Spanish jobs and invests more than 250 million dollars in the local economy.”

The ship’s commander, Captain Michael Concannon, and the Defence attaché at the US embassy in Spain, Captain Manuel Picon, received the minister on board, along with a large group of civilian and military authorities from both countries.

The USS ‘Hershel Woody Williams’ is an ESB-4 model, a mobile expeditionary platform, with a particular and striking aesthetic, dedicated to support allies in the Mediterranean and African waters, especially naval aviation and amphibious operations.