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Menorca becomes a naval base for NATO fleet, the third in Spain after Rota and Cartagena.

Menorca becomes a naval base for NATO fleet, the third in Spain after Rota and Cartagena.

Baku, March 29, AZERTAC

The Naval Station of Mahón (also known as Maó) in the east of the island of Menorca has become one of the three Spanish bases for logistic support for NATO ships operating in the Mediterranean, alongside Rota in Cadiz and Cartagena in Murcia. According to West Observer, in April of last year, the Spanish government offered Mahón to NATO as a “port with permanent diplomatic authorization” for allied ships participating in Operation Sea Guardian. Since then, it has been functioning as such. Operation Sea Guardian, led by the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) based in Northwood, UK, aims to deter and protect against terrorist attacks, gather maritime intelligence, and develop regional security capabilities.

While the Naval Headquarters of the Balearic Sector is in the Naval Station of Porto Pi in Palma de Mallorca, Mahón has better conditions as a logistics support point for NATO, with large fuel storage tanks, water tanks, and disused underground tunnels for resupplying NATO ships. Located at less than 400 kilometers from ports in France, Algeria, and Italy, Mahón is strategically positioned in the western Mediterranean. Unlike Rota and Cartagena, which house large Navy units such as frigates and submarines, Mahón has more modest military facilities dating back to the British occupation of the island in the 18th century.

Operation Sea Guardian, established in 2016, aims to maintain freedom of navigation in the Mediterranean and prevent threats such as mining, smuggling of weapons of mass destruction components, and piracy. Spain has been part of Sea Guardian for two decades and is set to provide a submarine, maritime patrol aircraft, frigate, supply ship, and patrol boat with a special operations team for crisis response. Spanish bases in Rota, Cartagena, and Mahón serve as Forward Logistic Sites for the operation, with an annual cost exceeding 27 million euros.

Mahón has become a port of call for NATO’s permanent fleets, including frigates and minesweepers, forming part of the Alliance’s Response Force in times of crisis. Spanish frigates have visited Mahón, serving as flagship vessels for these fleets. The global situation, including the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, has led to increased NATO naval activities, with Spain contributing significant resources to support these missions.

Spain’s inclusion of Mahón as a base for NATO fleets underscores the country’s role in NATO’s maritime strategy, along with the presence of US destroyers in Rota as part of the Alliance’s missile defense system. In addition to naval contributions, Spain also provides ground and air support in Eastern Europe to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank in response to potential Russian aggression. These efforts involve deploying troops and equipment to Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, and other countries as part of NATO operations. Spain’s military efforts in the region represent a significant contribution to collective defense within the Alliance.

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