THE Spanish Navy announced yesterday that it will start decommissioning the frigate Baleares, currently based in Ferrol, which has been in service for 31 years. She will be decommissioned by March 30, 2005, as part of the modernisation of the Spanish fleet.
The frigate forms part of a squadron of escort ships formed by five ships of the F-70 series.
A Navy spokesman said that the Baleares had sailed for 622'000 nautical miles, the equivalent of sailing around the world 25 times, and has taken part in many operations and exercises. The most outstanding of these are the Operation Lasting Freedom in the Mediterranean, and the Parsley Island conflict with Morocco over an uninhabited island. The spokesman said that the Baleares has also crossed the Arctic Polar Circle and the Tropic of Capricorn and throughout her period of service, she has launched 23 missiles. After she has been decommissioned, the Navy will adjudicate her to firms wishing to buy her to break her up or use her for other purposes, the spokesman said. She is not the first frigate of the F-70 series to be taken out of service, as the Cataluña was decommissioned on June 31, after 28 years.
The next to be decommissioned will be the Andalucia, while the remaining two ships in the squadron, the Extremadura and the Asturias, will remain on active duty until 2010, as they were the last to enter into service. The F-70s will be replaced by four frigates of the F-100 series.
Two of the new frigates are already in the hands of the Navy, while two are being built at the Izar Ferrol shipyards, a spokesman said.