by Staff Reporter
THE port of Palma yesterday welcomed the frigate Baleares, under the command of Captain Francisco Cabezas Roda, on her farewell visit. She will be in port until Sunday and will be open to the public at the Dique del Oeste from 10am to 1.30pm and 4 to 7pm tomorrow and at 6.30pm on Sunday.

The ship will be withdrawn from service on September 15, after 31 years of service in which she has travelled 621'993 miles, the equivalent of 25 trips around the world.

The Baleares was built at the shipyards in El Ferrol and entered into service on September 24, 1973. She made Spanish naval history as she was the first of a series of five units derived from the American class Knox frigates, and as such was the first missile launching combat ship in the Spanish Navy.

Her farewell cruise started on June 17 and has taken her to Rota, Malaga and Cartagena before Palma, her last port of call before returning to her base in El Ferrol, where she will be decommissioned.

Captain Cabezas said that despite her age, Baleares is still fully operational, her most recent mission acting as an escort to merchant ships carrying fuel and personnel to Afghanistan and Iraq from September 20 to March 30 and with the Permanent Force in the Mediterranean between January 11 and April 30.

Over the years, she has taken part in many exercises on a national and multi-national level with NATO, and real operations, including the UN embargo on the former Yugoslavia and the recent ‘Battle of Parsley Island,' an uninhabited island off the coast of Morocco, which was “occupied” by a handful of Moroccans and retaken by Spain.

Designed as an ocean escort ship, she has a crew of 227 (including 20 women).
She has a displacement of 4'080 tons, has a draught of 7.6 metres and is 133.5 metres long.
She has two traditional boilers and a Westinghouse steam turbine which provide 35'000 hp. She has a range of 5'500 miles sailing at 20 knots.
Her weapons include Standart/Harpoon missiles, radar and submarine detection.