NATO will have a larger presence in the Balearics. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


The Naval Station in the port of Mahon has been designated as Spain’s third logistical support base for NATO, joining the existing ones in Rota and Cartagena.

According to El País, the decision follows the Spanish government’s offer to the Atlantic Alliance in April last year, granting Mahon the status of ‘port with permanent diplomatic authorisation’ for the docking and anchoring of its ships.
This base will play a crucial role in Operation Sea Guardian, which focuses on deterrence and protection against terrorist attacks, among other missions.

Menorca’s strategic location in the centre of the western Mediterranean and close to important European and African ports, along with its facilities, such as fuel depots and underground tunnels, make it an ideal logistical support point for NATO. In addition, the base has hosted permanent NATO fleets and has participated in international military exercises.

Operation Sea Guardian is the heir to Active Endeavour, launched by NATO after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in the United States.
The operation’s objectives include guaranteeing freedom of movement in the Mediterranean, preventing the planting of mines, the smuggling of equipment that could be used for the production of weapons of mass destruction, and acts of piracy such as those occurring in the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa.

Spain has been taking part in Operation Sea Guardian for two decades, and this year it is expected to contribute a submarine, a maritime surveillance aircraft, a frigate and a supply ship, as well as a patrol boat with a special operations team permanently on standby to act in the event of a crisis. In addition to the embarked units, Spain is contributing the naval bases at Rota, Cartagena and Mahon as Forward Logistic Sites (FLS).

The Mahon base has also become a port of call for NATO’s permanent fleets, such as the frigates (SNMG) and minehunters (SNMCMG), which form part of the Atlantic Alliance’s Crisis Response Force (NRF). Between 30 April and 2 May last year, the SNMCG-2, made up of a Turkish logistics ship and three minehunters, visited the Mahon base, and the SNMG-2 fleet visited the Menorcan port twice, in October 2020 and May 2021.

The incorporation of the port of Mahon into NATO’s fleet support bases highlights Spain’s weight in the allied naval strategy, according to experts. The most important role corresponds to the US destroyers stationed at the Rota naval base, which form part of the Atlantic Alliance’s anti-missile shield.