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Hernán Cortés

Both ships of the LST Newport class - Hernán Cortés and Pizarro - were acquired by the Spanish Navy to the U.S. Navy in 1994 to replace the Terrebonne Parish class Tank Landing Ships received in the early 1970s. In the early 90s the Spanish amphibious force - Fleet Delta Group - was, along with the mine warfare force, the least evolved Navy group had very obsolete resources. At the same time, the end of the Cold War, around 1990, led to some confusion about the strategic needs that would have to be attended to in the future; this in addition to the belief that the new scenario would lead to a reduction in armament investments - which was called "dividends of peace", very practical in a period of economic crisis- meant radical paralysis of the new building programmes, creating a difficult situation for Empresa Nacional Bazán.

Nevertheless,the capacity for projection on land and the amphibious resources were one of the first aspects to be re-evaluated in the new geostrategic scenario. The need to replace The Navy's ships of this kind became urgent; the pitiful state of the two Velasco class LST's led to the leasing with a purchase option of the Pizarro and Hernán Cortés LST's from the United States. This measure caused a strong reaction as it was feared that it would mean the loss of the capacity for new buildings of own design achieved by Bazán and a return to the period in which the Navy was equipped with second-hand American ships.

In 1971 dock landing ship LSD-25 San Marcos, of the LSD-13 Casa Grande [some Spanish sources related that the the ship was an LSD of the Cabildo class], was loaned to Spain and received the name L-31 Galicia. The reception of these ships was completed in 1971/72 with the arrival of the three LSTs (tank landing ship), L-11 Velasco, L-12 Martín Álvarez and L-13 Count of Venadito of the Terrebonne Parish class.

They were constructed the shipyards National Steel & SB Co, of San Diego (the U.S.A.), and went into service in 1972. The Hernan Cortez belonged to the Newport class and was built at the National Steel and Ship Building Company in San Diego and commissioned as USS Barnstable County (LST-1197). It was launched in 1971 and in May 1972 was assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet amphibious force. It was transferred August 1994 to the Spanish Navy through the Security Assistance Program, foreign military sale.

The Newport-class Tank Landing Ships are larger and faster than earlier LSTs, and represent a complete departure from the previous concept of Amphibious Tank Landing Ships. The traditional bow doors, which have characterized LST's construction since the first vessels of this type were built during World War II, were replaced by a 40-ton bow ramp supported by two distinctive derrick arms. The hull form necessary for the attainment of the 20-knot speeds of contemporary amphibious squadrons would not permit bow doors. The conventional flat bottom hull was redesigned to include a destroyer-type bow enabling the ships to attain speeds in excess of 20 knots. This feature enables her to operate with modern high-speed amphibious forces. A stern gate also makes possible off-loading amphibious vehicles directly into the water.

These ships specialize in the transport of troops, vehicles and material, and are characterized by their curve-slide incline of 34 meters maintained by a crane of porch in the prow that directly allows the disembarkation of the load in a wharf, on the beach or in pontoons that can transport in their bands. The ships also had a load incline to stern. As average of disembarkation they take two boats per vehicle/personel LCVP, two boats for personnel LCPL and four pontoons of disembarkation of combat vehicles.

Chief of Logistic Support, Bay of Cadiz, Adm. Jose Angel Pita Rodrigo, presided over a ceremony in which the disembarkation ship Hernán Cortés was decommissioned. Nov 12, 2009, officially struck from the Spanish Navy Registry. Over the years, Hernán Cortés (L 41) and her sister ship, Pizarro (L 42), have participated in peace keeping operations in the former Yugoslavia and Albania, as well as humanitarian missions in Central America. Hernán Cortés also conducted numerous national and international exercises, such as Destined Glory and Tapón with the Spanish Marines. She has also been part of the Military Naval training cruise and has collaborated with the Spanish Army as support for military logistic transportation.

Displacement 8,450 tons full load
Dimensions 159.2 x 21.2 x 5.3 meters (562 x 69.5 x 17.5 feet)
Propulsion 6 diesels, 2 shafts, 16,500 bhp, 20 knots
Crew 255
Aviation small aft landing area
Troops 400
Cargo 17,300 square feet vehicle (30 MBT & 17 trucks), 2,000 tons total (500 when beaching), 3 LCVP
EW SLQ-32, Mk-36 chaff launcher
Armament 4 25 mm, 1 20 mm Phalanx CIWS

Number Name Homeport Year Decomm Notes
L41 Hernan Cortes Rota 1972/94 13 Nov 2009 ex-LST 1197 Barnstable County
L42 Pizarro Rota 1972/95 14 Dec 2012 ex-LST 1196 Harlan County

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Page last modified: 25-01-2013 18:56:35 ZULU