The Minister of Defence, Carme Chacon, today in Rota (Cadiz) attended the ceremonies marking the opening of the new pier at the Naval Base, and the delivery to the Navy, by the company Navantia, of the first Maritime Action Ship (BAM), “Meteor.” Chacon has also chaired the meeting of the Superior Council of the Navy which was held aboard the strategic projection ship 'Juan Carlos I'.
During the visit, the minister announced that the Cabinet tomorrow [July 29—Ed.] will authorize the award of a contract to build five new Maritime Action Ships. This new program, according to the minister, will secure jobs for 6,000 families in the Bay of Cadiz area for the next five years.
Chacon, who made the announcement during as the first Maritime Action Ship, the “Meteor,” was handed over the the Navy, said that three of the new ships will be configured for patrol missions, one for search and rescue, and the final one for oceanographic research.
The program for the construction of the first four BAM was authorized by the Council of Ministers in May 2005. Today, Chacon presided over the delivery ceremony to the Navy of the first of these ships.
Built entirely in the Navantia’s La Carraca shipyard in San Fernando (Cádiz), this vessel will be fully operational from next March, after several months of tests and qualification.
With a crew of 35 and simple and economical maintenance, the BAM are multipurpose ships, able to perform a variety of missions, and capable of operating at sea for long periods of time and in adverse weather conditions.
This versatility was highlighted by the defense minister, who said that "BAM has the same ability to monitor our coasts, to act as hospital emergency humanitarian disaster, or to combat piracy in waters off Somalia. That's the flexibility required for twenty-first century missions," she concluded.
During the morning, Chacon has also attended the official opening of Pier 4 of the Rota Naval Base. The new dock is designed to increase capacity to support the Alliance’s maritime forces, and was built as part of NATO’s Security Investment Program.
The new Pier 4 is 398.5 meters long and 51.5 meters wide. The project cost a total of 46.5 million euros, of which NATO financed 24.3 million (52.3% of total) and Spain 22.18 million (the remaining 47.7%).