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NAVSTA Rota, Moron Air Base Receive Diverted Military Flights

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100420-04

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Paul Cage, Naval Station Rota, Spain, Public Affairs

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, Spain, and Moron Air Base absorbed many U.S. military flights diverted from Northern European Routes due to ash being spewed from the Iceland volcanic eruption April 16–19.

Rota typically averages about eight to 13 flights a day but saw double that amount throughout the weekend.

Moron Air Base, which is about an hours drive north of NAVSTA Rota, averages one or two flights a day. Throughout the weekend, it had about 10 times that amount.

Cmdr. Tom Eberhard, NAVSTA Rota's executive officer, expressed complete confidence in NAVSTA personnel to handle the challenge.

"Because of the incredible teamwork between our Navy and Air Force personnel here at NAVSTA Rota, we are able to meet this increased demand," said Eberhard. "We have some of the best Sailors and Airmen in the world. They are always focused on accomplishing the mission."

Volcanic ash creates a cloud that is hazardous to engines. When absorbed into the engine, it can cause the engine to flame out. Air Mobility Command (AMC) flights that usually traverse the northern European air route were diverted to the southern, Mediterranean route via NAVSTA Rota and Moron Air Base to avoid the hazard.

AMC has a fixed route infrastructure to handle its aircraft and although it is a fixed route it is very flexible, said Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Cannon, 521st Air Mobility Operations Group's deputy commander.

"We are meeting U.S. Transportation Command requirements by flexing our capability to our fixed locations to handle the air flow," said Cannon. "The men and women here at the 725th Air Mobility Squadron have adapted to meet the work load by increasing the work shifts and duty hours to handle the increase in traffic."

A team of mechanics, from other bases not affected by the ash cloud, was sent to Moron in conjunction with the 496th Air Base Squadron to work on planes as they transit from Europe and the United States.

"We love it when there are a lot of tails on the ramp," said Cannon. "Air Mobility professionals take a lot of pride in the fact they are pushing a lot of cargo and men through the system to the fight and back to the states. The work load has doubled; we rolled up ours sleeves and did the work."

Cannon said the Navy is a wonderful partner in Rota. Naval Facilities Engineering Command provided a bus and driver to transport maintainers from Rota to Moron.

"The support from the Navy at Rota as usual is phenomenal," said Cannon.

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