Spanish Armada Ship Cantabria arrives in Australia

13 February 2013
LSIS Paul Berry

The Spanish Armada Ship Cantabria arrived in Australia on February 13 to commence a year long deployment working with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Spanish Armada Ship Cantabria in Port Phillip Bay sailing past NUSHIP Canberra.
Spanish Armada Ship Cantabria in Port Phillip Bay sailing past NUSHIP Canberra.

Her Port Melbourne arrival ended a 41 day, 20,000km journey from Spain via the Suez Canal, Souda Bay, Crete and Diego Garcia.

The deployment is a result of the excellent relationship between the Spanish Armada and the RAN.

It’s a relationship that will only get stronger, according to the 12 Australian officers and sailors onboard Cantabria for the journey from Spain.

LSCIS Kristal Moona said the Cantabria crew accepted them with open arms.

“It’s been very different, but a great experience and I’ve made some really good friends,” LSCIS Moona said.

“We work the same, some of the lingo is the same and they’re very good at their work,” she said.

She said Australia Day in Diego Garcia was one of the highlights of the journey.

“We showed them how to play cricket then we played some beach volleyball and it was just fantastic interaction with the crew,” LSCIS Moona said.

During the deployment Cantabria will participate in mutually beneficial training and exercises with Australian naval ships and helicopters, culminating with her participation in the International Fleet Review in October 2013.

Cantabria will also provide a valuable opportunity for the RAN to conduct early training for personnel earmarked for service in the RAN’s new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships and Hobart Class You do not have access to view this node (AWD).

Many of Cantabria’s systems are the same as the LHDs and AWDs, which are based on Spanish ship designs.

COMAUSFLT, RADM Tim Barrett, said Cantabria was an excellent edition to the fleet this year.

“She’s in magnificent condition, her crew looks professional, alert, ready and pleased to be here so I expect that we will see a lot from this crew over this year,” RADM Barrett said.

“I look forward to the opportunity that we will have many of our people experience life at sea on Cantabria,” he said.

Spanish SBLT Antonio Martorell said he volunteered to serve on Cantabria when he learnt of the Australian deployment.

“I think it will be a great experience with the Australian Navy, our ship will train a lot and get very professional and we will take advantage of being in a new country and travel around,” SBLT Martorell said.

“I love having the RAN onboard; I’ve been practicing my English and we’ve joking around, they are really fun people,” he said.

The deployment will allow the Spanish Armada to trial the ship's full range of capabilities, including the operating/maintenance cycle of the ships systems and the logistics and maintenance support mechanisms for the ship.

RAN Training Systems Officer, LEUT Chris Thornton said the Spanish sailors were the European equivalent of Australian sailors.

“I guess this is just one of those unique experiences,” said LEUT Thornton.

“It’s just spectacular to work with another navy and they have the same outlook as us; ‘no worries,’ that basically sums up their attitude I think,” he said.

Additional imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at