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Joan Collins THE Soller Naval Station is this weekend playing host to the visit by the submarine “Marsopa”, the last in the “Delfin” series in service. Her presence in the port has seen two days of “open doors” for anyone who wishes to look over the submarine. This visit concides with the 70th anniversary of the naval station, which is in the process of being transformed. Days ago the demolition of this emblematic Naval building was carried out in an operation which ended the planned demolition of all the installations along the dockside which has been in operation since the Ministry of Defence handed over the land in 1998. Actually, the base performed an important social function in playing host to the regular docking of ships from the Atlantic Alliance for their crews to take rest periods during exercises in the Mediterranean. This also maintained its strategic role of logistic support. Its former commander, Francisco Arenas, with distant family ties in Soller, toured the installations which belonged to the Navy, recently restored or in the refurbishment phase, as far as the historic lighthouse of Sa Creu, which has been replaced by another which is safer from erosion by the sea. Between the two is the frightening “bufador”, an enormous hole in the rock which plunges to the sea and on stormy days produces impressive sea sprays. From here there is a path across the cliff which, by crossing a large green area, leads to the new Sea Museum and which, in the future. could join this cultural centre with the lighthouses in a combined itinerary. The origin of the Naval Station goes back to 1937 when, due to the Civil War, the new civil docks, the hotels Terramar and Costa Brava, the school, the chapels of Sant Ramon and Santa Catalina and some private houses were all seized by the Army. These came to form part of the military establishments in the Port. Planned originally as a supply base, three tunnels were dug to house munitions, supplies and fuel for the Navy. During the war various Spanish submarines, such as the “General Sanjurjo” established their base here, and also some Italian ones, such as the “Ferraris” which took part in actions against the ships of the then Republican Government. A watercolour by the painter Aledo, showing two of the Spanish submarines stationed in Soller, is a testimony to this first era which paved the way for the creation, in 1941, of the School of Submarine Armaments, which was operational until 1971. Meanwhile, in 1956, the minesweeping centre was established, which remained active until 1968. For decades the Soller Naval Station had a strategic and also social importance for the Navy with a total 1'173 men based there. The base also housed ammunition for the Port and S'Olivar, the support detachment and a sports field with a heliport. In 1946 the base mourned the accidental sinking of a C-4 submarine during manoevres a few miles offshore. This was caused by a surface ship hitting it as a result of an error in its course calculations. During the 1950s and 60s the Soller base was host to the destroyer “Almirante Miranda”, which was based there for 20 years and has the distinction of being the largest armed ship to be based there. Minesweepers and patrol boats populated the port in the 1970s, during which a period of decline started with a minimal number of men based there. This lasted until recent days when the new plan for the use of the port was devised. The demolition of the Naval buildings determines the new image of the base which will possibly also have a submarine on the dock as a museum.