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NAVSTA Rota Flexes, Supports Volcano Surge Efforts

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100422-25

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Paul Cage with NAVSTA Rota Public Affairs Office

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- As medical and logistic military flights are diverted from Northern European Air Routes due to volcanic ash from Iceland, Naval Station Rota and Moron Air Base continue to provide staging support at almost double capacity.

Flight operations have resumed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. However, Air Mobility Command aircraft diverted to southern staging locations will continue for several days or longer to help return the status of air travel back to normal, said Col. Tim Budd, 86th operations group commander.

Since April 16, Rota has averaged 27 aircraft movements per day - the regular tempo of operations is eight to 13. The base has also supported more than 2,500 passengers and 38,000 pounds of cargo being transferred between the United States and countries within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in a matter of days.

Since the influx began, Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers Sigonella Site Rota Fuels Department has issued 2.4 million gallons to 286 aircraft.

"We've definitely had to flex our logistical capabilities," said Cmdr. Tom Eberhard, NAVSTA executive officer. "Just about every department and tenant command on base is engaged 100 percent in supporting our incoming and outgoing warfighters."

Lt. Manning Espinal, the NAVSTA air operations command post officer, said Sailors, Airmen, DoD civilians and Spanish nationals are working around the clock to accommodate the increased aircraft traffic.

"Last night, we had more than 700 passengers come though," said Espinal. "It takes a lot of hard work and sweat to make sure these people are taken care of. The amount of teamwork between our military personnel and civilians, DoD and Spanish national, has been amazing."

The base is handling a large influx of personnel waiting for flights. "We have billeted transient personnel in all these buildings and assisted FISC with setting up the MWR gym as contingency berthing utilizing cots," said Bob Crist, NAVSTA Rota Housing Director. "If we don't have rooms on base, they will assist in finding commercial lodging for those transients that have civilian clothes."

Flights transporting ill and wounded soldiers that would normally head to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany also have been rerouted. The new medevac route runs from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Balad, Iraq, to a refueling stop at Rota and finally to Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington in Maryland.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the ash plume has had no effect on operations in Afghanistan.

Some resupply flights have been affected, with European goods now flowing from other logistics hubs, U.S. Transportation Command officials said. Still, most military goods ship via land or water, and these shipments have not been affected.

Naval Station Rota, Spain is strategically located near the Strait of Gibraltar and at the halfway point between the United States and Southwest Asia. Because of this ideal location, the base is able to provide invaluable support to both U.S. Sixth Fleet units in the Mediterranean and to U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command units transiting into or through the theater.

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