Palma / Palma de Mallorca
39deg/34min N 02deg/38min E
Palma is located approximately 110 n mi south of Barcelona and 140 n mi east of Valencia, Spain on the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. The Port of Palma is positioned at the head of the Bay of Palma on the south coast of the southwestern portion of the island. The bay is located at the southwest end of an island-wide plain which lies east of a ridge of rugged limestone mountains situated along the northwest coast of the island. Peaks in the mountains rise to a maximum height of 4,741 ft. East of the plain is a discontinuous series of low hills which do not exceed 1,800 ft.
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.
The port is medium-sized, and capable of accommodating several ships with drafts to 40 ft. The inner harbor is spacious and well dredged with ample maneuvering room. It is sheltered on the south and east by breakwaters, and on the west and north by land. U.S. Navy ships are assigned pierside berths along the south breakwater, Dique del Oeste. Navy ships can expect to yield berths to higher priority commercial vessels. During 2000-01, construction of an earthen platform will add 3 additional berths to the south breakwater.
Ships may anchor in an area beyond 1600 yds bearing 151 deg from south breakwater head. All oilers, nuclear-powered ships and submarines must anchor, due to current Spanish port policy.
The Spanish Navy has a base on the southern edge of the harbor. Ships are berthed along the southwestern backwater, called "PortoPi".
The inner harbor of the Port of Palma is well protected. According to local mariners, winds and waves do not necessitate protective measures within the harbor. A tall quay wall on Dique del Oeste provides ample shelter for moored vessels. 2-3 times a year, tall waves will crash over the quay wall, amplified at the wall corners.
The anchorage is exposed to some of the conditions from which the inner harbor is sheltered. Southeasterly waves, both sea and swell, of 10 to 13 ft reach the anchorage about 7 days per year. Usually caused by Sirocco winds (locally called Xaloc), the event is difficult to predict. Southwesterly winds, locally called Vendaval, can generate waves which reach Punta de Cala Figuera (about 8 n mi southwest of the port) with heights of 10 to 13 ft, but the waves diminish somewhat before they reach the anchorage. It is a fierce weather event, but is short lived, and typically precedes a cold front. The anchorage has a good mud and sand bottom, with 90 to 100 fm of chain on a single anchor recommended. Local authorities cite 2 cases of ships dragging or breaking anchor due to bad weather over the last 20 years.
The Port where the US Navy docks is Palma, the provincial capital and largest city of the group of islands known as the Balearics, the Baleares Province of Spain. There are four of them Mallorca (which, literally, means "the larger"), Menorca (obviously, "the smaller"), Ibiza and Formentera. Palma is situated on Mallorca so we'll focus on that island but, depending upon the time of year you visit, there are some opportunities for day trips to the others.
The Balearic Islands have been around a very long time and, on one of your excursions, you can witness some of the evidence. Massive stone monuments are said to have been built as far back as the 13th Century BC.
The history of the cultures that have ruled the islands is pretty much what you would expect from an outpost sitting smack dab in the middle of the route between Southern Europe and Northern Africa; it got invaded and conquered by every seafaring band of the time. Just as on the mainland of Spain, the Arab Moors and the Christians were the last two, with the modem history of the islands beginning when they became part of the kingdom of Aragon in 1343. They were once rich trade outposts but, after the conquerors came the pirates, and the leaders of Spain thought the Balearics were getting plundered too much, so most of the trading stopped. Today, the islands identify closely with the Catalan region of Spain, and Barcelona in particular. The main language on the islands is a version of Catalan, which is quite different from Castilian Spanish, although Castilian (and English) are spoken here.
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