Tactical Support Center (TSC) Rota
Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility [FOSIF]
Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Center (ASWOC)
After 30 years as guardians of the gateway to the Mediterranean, the gatekeepers of Tactical Support Center (TSC) Rota discontinued operations on 01 July 1999, and vacated its site by 30 September 1999. Established in 1969, TSC Rota's location near the strategically vital Strait of Gibraltar made it the point man of Sixth Fleet's Mediterranean patrol. On 20 August 1974, Patrol Squadron Two at Rota, Spain received the first of 15 modular units that comprise the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Center (ASWOC), a computerized command and control complex that facilitates responsiveness to operational commitments.
As Soviet surface and subsurface naval deployments to the area steadily increased throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, TSC Rota operations specialists provided the mission planning and support that enabled maritime patrol aircraft to conduct continuous surveillance and tracking of Soviet ships and submarines before, during, and after their transit through the Strait. Data from these missions, analyzed by aviation systems warfare operators at TSC Rota, was then forwarded to Sixth Fleet commanders, providing them with critical intelligence regarding Soviet naval vessel's acoustic signatures, operating characteristics, and warfighting capabilities. TSC Rota personnel's crucial role as guardians and protectors of Sixth Fleet's front door earned them the moniker "Gatekeepers of the Med."
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, TSC Rota's focus shifted to adapt to the evolving missions of Sixth Fleet. The unit became the focal point for the integration of Spanish naval forces into NATO, and it participated in numerous yearly exercises aimed at strengthening that relationship. In 1994 Tactical Support center (TSC) Rota participated in two multinational exercises, Minex-94/I and Swordfish 94. Both exercises required TSC to work closely with other nations and provided training for all participants. Mines-94/I, which ran from June 7 to 9 was a U.S.-Spanish bilateral exercise in Mine Counter Measure (MCM) training operations near Palma Island, Spain. Comandante Mine Counter Measures (COMTEMECOM), Spain's mine warfare command, conducted the exercise. TSC Rota was tasked by Commander Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT), Gaeta, Italy, with operational control of aerial mining flights in support of the exercise. One P-3B aircraft (from Brunswick Maine) from the Spanish Maritime Patrol Squadron (ALA 21) at Moron Air Force Base, Spain, and one VP-23 P-3C aircraft currently at NAS Sigonella, were tasked to conduct aerial minelaying missions. The other exercise, Swordfish 94, was a NATO exercise involving U.S., French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese forces. This exercise took June 7 to 14 and was commanded by Portugal's Comandante Naval (COMNAV) and Comandante Operational Da Forca Aerea Portuguesa (COMOPFAP). TSC Rota executed tasking directed by COMNAV and COMOPFAP and to provide a C4I for a P-3C combat aircrew deployed to Keflavik, Iceland. The aircraft flew direct support missions for one of the exercise task groups and conducted antisubmarine and antisurface warfare. These exercises provided opportunities for coordinated operations tasking with other NATO units and honed TSC's operational skills.
Rota Naval Station and Tactical Support Center (TSC) Rota won the 1998 Golden Anchor Awards for large and small European commands ashore, respectively. The Golden Anchor is given each year to one command in each category which best demonstrates excellence in career information and personnel programs. Even though TSC sends Sailors on difficult deployments to locations like Bosnia, they've were able to maintain a 100-percent reenlistment rate.
Although a permanent unit has been deemed no longer necessary, nor cost effective, Sixth Fleet will still maintain area presence in the form of a Mobile Operations Control Center (MOCC). The MOCC, based in Sigonella, Sicily, can quickly deploy to Naval Station Rota to provide all the command-and-control functions of a permanent TSC.
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