The former flagship vessel of the Spanish navy, the aircraft carrier, ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ will today officially leave the service of the Spanish Navy in an official act held at the Naval Base in Rota.
The heir to the throne, Príncipe Felipe and the Minister of Defence, Pedro Morenés, will officiate at the act, after which the vessel will be taken to the Ferrol shipyards in Cádiz, where all remaining weaponry will be dismantled and the vessel sold off, probably for scrap.
It’s likely that the Juan Carlos I, a multi- purpose warship will take the place of flagship vessel of the Spanish fleet, but this has not yet been confirmed officially. The Juan Carlos I has the capability to launch helicopters and STOVL aircraft, as well as carry troops and landing equipment and is an-all round vessel which offers greater flexibility to the Navy, as well as being considerably cheaper to run than the purpose built aircraft carrier ( see full report after the Juan Carlos I visited Cartagena last year).
The Principe de Asturias (R-11) was built in the shipyards of Bazan in Ferrol ( now Navantia) and entered service in 1988.
The vessel is the latest victim of the budgetary restrictions which are assailing every public department in the Spanish government. After 24 years of service, it will cost 100 million euros to keep the Principe de Asturias operational, money which the Navy simply doesn´t have available in its budgets for the coming year. In 2007 the vessel underwent a modernisation which cost 3.665.000 euros, but aircraft carriers are notoriously expensive to run and the Navy cannot support the cost any longer.
Although there are still hopes that a potential purchaser may be interested in acquiring the vessel, the most likely end for the Principe will be dismantlement and scrapping.
Image: Spanish Navy
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