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SPS Príncipe de Asturias (R-11)

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The SPS Príncipe de Asturias (R-11), originally named Almirante Carrero Blanco, is an aircraft carrier and is the flagship of the Spanish Navy. She was built in Bazan's Shipyards and delivered to the Spanish Navy on May 30, 1988.

Spain has operated aircraft carriers since the 1920s, initially with the seaplane tender SPS Dédalo and later the multi-role light carrier SPS Dédalo, which was formerly the US Navy's World War II light carrier USS Cabot. The SPS Dédalo was replaced as the navy's fleet flagship by the Príncipe de Asturias.

The ship was permanently assigned to the Alpha Group, comprising the carrier and six Santa Maria-class frigates (a Spanish version of the USN Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFGs). Other vessels such as logistic ships, tankers and corvettes are frequently assigned to the Group when required. Príncipe de Asturias and the Alpha Group have participated in peace support operations in the Adriatic Sea.

Design[edit]

The design is basically that of the initial US Navy's Sea Control Ship design of the 1970s, modified with a ski-jump ramp added to better enable V/STOL aircraft takeoff. Constructed by the National Company Bazan (then Empresa Nacional Bazán, now Navantia) in their shipyard at Ferrol, Príncipe de Asturias was delivered to the Navy on May 30, 1988. The construction process had begun eleven years previously, on May 29, 1977. The processing of the steel began on March 1, 1978 and the keel was laid on October 8, 1979. On May 22, 1982, in a ceremony presided over by Juan Carlos I of Spain, the launch took place, with Queen Sofía of Spain as the ship's sponsor. The ship made her first sea trials in November 1987.

The Thai warship HTMS Chakri Naruebet, delivered in 1997, is based on the Spanish ship's design.

Aicraft and Aviation Facilities[edit]

The ship supports 12 AV-8B Harrier II Bravo or AV-8B Harrier II Plus aircraft. The Harriers are armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile and AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles, in addition to GAU-12U cannon. The carrier also has facilities to support helicopters, usually 6 Sikorsky Sea King SH-3H, 4 Agusta AB-212 and 2 Sikorsky SH-3 AEW (Airborne Early Warning) helicopters.

The ship supports a maximum of 29 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft with up to 12 on deck and 17 aircraft in the hangar. The hangar which measures 2,398 m² is accessed by two flight deck lifts. The 5,100 m² flight deck is 176 m in length. Operating V/STOL aircraft, the carrier has the characteristic "ski-jump" (12° here), with the runway sightly off the longitudinal axis, tilted portside.

Specifications[edit]

  • Type: STOVL Aircraft Carrier
  • Service Period: 1988-Present
  • Characteristics:
    • Length: 643 feet (195.99 meters)
    • Beam: 80 feet (23.29 meters)
    • Draft: 31 feet (9.45 meters)
    • Displacement: 15,912 tons standard, 16,700 tons loaded
  • Crew: 830 (800 ship crew, 230 air crew)
  • Propulsion: 2 x Bazan-General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines in COGAG configuration, one shaft, 46,400 shp
  • Range: 6,500 nautical miles (12,038 kilometers) at 20 knots (37.04 km/h)
  • Speed: 26 knots (48.16 km/h)
  • Sensor Suite:
    • Raytheon SPS-52C/D 3D air search radar
    • ISC Cardion SPS-55 surface search radar
    • ITT SPN-35A aircraft control radar
    • FABA SPG-M2B fire control radar
    • SELEX Sistemi Integrati RTN-11L/X missile approach warning radar
    • Selex RAN 12 L target designation radar
  • Countermeasures:
    • Nettunel electronic countermeasures unit
    • Super RBOC
    • Sensytech AN/SLQ-25 Nixie decoy
  • Armament
    • 4 x FABA Meroka Mod 2B CIWS
    • 12 x Oerlikon L120 20 mm guns
  • Aircraft Carried: 29 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters
  • Aviation Facilities: 12° ski jump 46.5 m in length
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