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The Mediterranean Squadron of the Spanish Navy maintains their headquarters here. A submarine school with a small submarine flotilla is also located in Cartagena, on the southeast coast of Spain near the eastern side of the Alboran Sea and western limit of the Mediterranean Sea. Situated on a section of south-facing coastline and is protected from most of the wind regimes of the Western Mediterranean. The entrance faces south and is approximately 984 ft (300 m) wide.

Sixth Fleet ports of call are also located throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Ship visits ensure continued access to essential bases and infrastructure. Engagement capitalizes on naval strengths of mobility and sustainability, using the inherent prestige of U.S. flagged warships. Formative engagement is further enhanced by incorporating the full range of naval assets -- including Seabees, the chaplaincy, the Judge Advocate General corps, and civil affairs units -- during port visits.

U.S. Navy berthing is on the eastern half of Dique de la Curra which is designated as the naval fuel pier. The Spanish Navy uses the western half. Total length is 1968 ft (600 m). Fleet landing is at the extreme west end of pier. Berthing is on north side of pier in depths of 35 ft (10.7 m). Additional mooring is possible at commercial docks such as Muelle de San Pedro and at west end of Muelle de Comercio Alphonso II.

Facilities exist for servicing naval vessels up to cruiser size. The port is a medium-sized natural harbor protected by breakwaters and has anchoring and berthing facilities for vessels up to 35 ft (10.6 m) draft in the harbor.

Castillo de Galeras, a castle atop a 656 ft (200 m) hill just west of the harbor, is a good landmark to use on approach. Dry cement loading at south end of Muelle de San Pedro can cause dust problems on windy days.

Main anchorage is approximately one mile south of the harbor entrance. Depth is 131 ft (40 m) with a good mud holding ground. Another anchorage is inside the entrance just south of Dique de la Curra. Depths here range from 42 to 54 ft (13-16.5 m). Additionally, a deep 213 ft (65 m) anchorage is located about 7 n mi west of the harbor entrance in Cala Salitrona. This anchorage provides protection from strong southwesterly winds but is exposed to easterlies and southeasterlies. Very good holding.

Beyond a point of land inside harbor entrance is a long pier (Dique de la Curra) extending more than halfway across the entrance channel from the east side. This pier must be circumnavigated to reach inner harbor area. This pier also blocks waves entering the harbor. Vessels anchored south of Dique de la Curra will feel some wave motion, but no wave motion for those on the north side.

Pronounced "Carta-HEY-nah," this ancient port is one of Spain's most important today. As a sailor or marine, you can appreciate the military importance of a deep-water port, and that's why you will see so many of your Spanish Navy counterparts and their ships based here.

And it's not just the modern navies that have valued Cartagena's military significance. All the major conquerors of the Iberian Peninsula had bases here: the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors. In the 16th Century, the city was sacked by the legendary Sir Francis Drake. In the 1800s, it was an independent state. Cartagena saw heavy fighting in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). In fact, you can visit the ruins of the old 13th Century cathedral, which stood until it was destroyed in the civil war.

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