NORFOLK — Part of a trend of European warships joining American aircraft carrier groups, the Spanish frigate Méndez Núñez arrived here Monday to begin two months of training to prep for a long deployment under US commanders.
An Álvaro de Bazán-class F100 multi-purpose frigate armed with the Aegis Combat System, the Méndez Núñez will become part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and participate in its upcoming Composite Training Unit Exercise, or “COMPTUEX.”
Last year, warships from Norway and Germany carried out similar training and a tour with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.
“In today’s complex and dynamic maritime environment, we have to forge and employ strong partnerships to protect our mutual interests,” said Capt. Sean Anderson, commander of the the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group’s Destroyer Squadron 2 in an American press release.
“We have been working with our Spanish partners for almost a year leading up to this COMPTUEX and cooperative deployment, and I can tell you, they are extremely professional and proficient. We will continue to learn from each other, which makes [Lincoln strike group] more formidable.”
After the initial training phase, the Méndez Núñez will return to its Spanish homeport in Ferrol.
It’s slated to rendezvous with the Lincoln and its guided-missile cruiser escort Leyte Gulf in April near the Strait of Gibraltar, the first leg of a long tour that’s set to sail the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The frigate will fall under American command as it transits waters patrolled by the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th fleets, the defense ministry announced.
The Méndez Núñez will then return to Ferrol, having circumnavigated the globe.
Named for a 19th century Spanish Admiral, the Méndez Núñez joined the Spanish fleet in 2006, the fourth warship in the F100 class of frigates.
The F100 design is on the shortlist for America’s proposed new FFG(X) class of multi-mission guided-missile frigates.
Although the frigate’s crew is slated for hard training in January and February, it will join American sailors and Marines in the strike group to attend a wreath-laying ceremony honoring three Spaniards killed during the Spanish-American War buried at the Captain Theodore H. Conaway Memorial Naval Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia.
As for the Lincoln, it’ll depart Norfolk for Gibraltar but will receive a homecoming in San Diego, the carrier’s new homeport.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.