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Santa Maria

The 41st escort Squadron is part of the structure of the armed forces and is organically integrated into the fleet, reporting directly to the Commander of Group 1. The six frigates of the Santa Maria class has its base in Rota. Ships of the squadron were built in Spain, the first of them mid-1980s and the last by 1995, and have completed a modernization process to enable them to maintain and improve their capabilities so that can continue operating effectively in the coming years.

In the late 1970s the Navy launched an ambitious strategy to achieve command of the sea lanes adjacent to Spanish territories, principally the vital Canaries-Gibraltar-Balearic axis. The cornerstone of the Navy's efforts was strengthening and modernizing its Aeronaval Battle Group Alfa to protect the maritime traffic along the Canaries-Gibraltar-Balearic route. The naval base at Rota was improved to host the Battle Group, which in 1989 received the long awaited Principe de Asturias aircraft carrier (replacing the aircraft carrier Dadelo built in 1942). The Battle Group formed around the Principe de Asturias with its compliment of Matador (Harrier) V/STOL aircraft and Sea King helicopters, consisted of six newly built Santa Maria class (FFG-7) frigates, four Baleares (Knox class) class frigates, and corvettes and submarines as needed. Both the aircraft carrier and the Santa Marta class frigates were equipped with the most modern and sophisticated anti-submarine warfare systems of the time.

In 1977, with the revision of the second phase of the naval program, the Spanish Armada needed to incorporate new escorts that accompany the aircraft carrier "Prncipe de Asturias" to set up what would come to be called the alpha group of the fleet. It was decided to build the first three frigates of the F-80 series (Santa Maria, Victoria, Numancia). Bazan began construction of an initial batch of four [ultimately increased to six] FFG-7 frigates to form the Combat Group escort vessels. The first two frigates, christened the Santa Maria and the Victoria, were delivered to the Navy in October of 1986 and 1987, respectively, while the frigate Numancia was delivered in October 1988. The delivery of fourth, named the Reina Sofia from the Bazan shipyards was planned for October 1990. The estimated cost of these four frigates came to about 140 billion pesetas.

These ships are 137 meters long, displace 3,600 tons and carried a crew of 222 men each. Their weaponry included long-range (100 km) Harpoon missiles, medium-range (45 km) Standard missiles, Oto Melara and Meroka guns, and also torpedo-launching tubes. Each can accommodate two Sea Hawk SH-60 helicopters.

The Squadron is an integral part of the protection capacity of the Navy and its main mission is the protection of combat groups or amphibious groups. The ships were initially conceived mainly for antisubmarine missions and ocean escort operations, however changes in the strategic environment have made the ships, given its great versatility and variety of capabilities, which now can be used in other tasks, such as support in the projection of a Naval Force, protection of the traffic, maritime interdiction operations, integration into the territorial air defense and surveillance and escort in remote theaters of operations.

The excellent versatility of this type of frigates allows them to operate in a large number of missions, most of which can be grouped into two broad categories: Maritime interdiction Operaciones and Protection of valuable units.

Maritime interdiction Operation (mine, Maritime Interdiction Operations) consist of the control of the maritime traffic in a certain area to enforce certain restrictions that may be imposed by international organizations. This is achieved through the identification of trafficking and boarding, inspection, and if any arrest of suspect ships.

As a result of the integration of the units of the 41st squadron in operation "Enduring freedom" (from the year 2001 in the waters of the Indian Ocean) was illustrated the capabilities of the frigates to perform this type of missions within the framework of international cooperation against terrorism. In this sense include "Socotra" operation carried out by Fr. "navarra" along with the ship's logistics support "patino" in which intercepted and boarded the Korean freighter "San-OS" discovering the burden of "Scud" missile that carried aboard.

Protection of valuable units is the kind of Mission for which the frigates were initially designed. Frigates, Destroyers and corvettes received the generic denomination of "escorts", for being the protection the main task that characterizes them. However, the changes that have taken place in this field since the frigates were built should be highlighted. Initially, the role that "Santa Mara" was expected for the units of the class was the ocean escort of merchant ships in open water and combat groups, where the main threat the submarine, was it though without ruling out aircraft and surface ships.

Today, the scenarios of the naval operations have moved to coastal waters, where frigates have proved their effectiveness in the escort groups of projection (aircraft carriers and amphibious ships) and the protection of maritime traffic in focal, such as the Strait of Gibraltar or the Red Sea points. This last task currently has special importance by the need to ensure the safety of trade routes against the threat posed by international terrorism.

The embarked SH-60B helicopter allows enhancing the capabilities of the frigate anti-submarine warfare, surface, maritime patrol, rescue and medical evacuation. Although initially conceived as an anti-submarine weapon for attack on nuclear submarines at great distances, the excellent versatility of the SH-60B has allowed adaptation to the new scenarios especially to maritime surveillance. What makes the SH-60B on a superb sensor is the link Data-Link between the helicopter and the ship.

The MK 92 is the designation given to the fire control system (FCS) in operationon the United States Navy's Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) class of guided missile frigates (FFG) and US Coast Guard medium and high endurance cutters class (WHEC 715-726). Additionally, the system has been deployed on the Australian Adelaide class frigates, Spanish Santa Maria class FFGs and Taiwan's Cheng Kuh class of guided missile frigate. As a fire control system, it is designed to coordinate the detection, tracking andengagement of hostile air and surface targets by the vessel's 76mm gun and missiles. The MK92 accomplishes this through the use of search/track radars, digital computers, servos,amplidynes, and other components, all largely reflective of 1970's technology. The FCS is modularized to support the maintenance concept of module replacement and the UA Navy's Planned Maintenance System (PMS), in an effort to minimize the number of personnel required to maintain it.

Exercising command of the 41st squadron of escorts a captain of vessel of the body General of the Navy, officer scale, which are directly dependent on the commanders of the six frigates that make up the squad. A Chief's orders, organ that plays those own a larger State, and a greater non-commissioned officer committed support in the exercise of command. The template available to vessels was initially approved in 1982 when the figure of the soldier of replacement still existed. That template being constituted by 17 officers, 28 non-commissioned officers and 169 seamen (which includes first corporals, corporals and sailors) was amended with the professionalization of the armed forces.

The 41st escort Squadron ships are organized into two structures, an administrative and other operational, according to the Royal Ordinances. Administrative organization serves as support for activities related to the preparation of the ship for combat and with administration. People of staffing and material means forming unit are organized in four main services, whose heads are under the authority of the Commander and the second. In turn, each of the services is divided into specialized destinations. Heads of service and target officers are responsible for the instruction and training of your staff, the maintenance of equipment and assigned compartments, and security.

As the ship prepares to exit to the sea, the operational structure allows employment of the vessel to perform the tasks for which have been ordered. The elements that form this structure are the controls, responsible for filling orders from the Commander and keeping informed of what happens, each in its own sphere of action. Two controls are organized in the frigates of the 41st Squadron: the tactical Control, responsible for the employment of the combat system (sensors and weapons) and information and communications systems, and the Control of platform, which is in charge of navigation, propulsion, internal security and support activities essential for combat, such as provisioning and health.

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Page last modified: 25-01-2013 18:56:38 ZULU