The Spanish Navy’s hydrographic fleet has an average age of over 40 years and although the equipment is more modern, the platforms are outdated. Given the Navy’s legal competence to update nautical cartography in Spanish waters and coasts, this is an important innovation for the safety of navigation.
For this reason, one of the main needs of the Spanish Navy is the rapid renovation of hydrographic vessels that are not exclusively performing military missions so that their acquisition could be funded from areas other than those of the Ministry of Defense. This is the case, for example, in Italy, which has resorted to European funding for the acquisition of three of these ships, an alternative that the Spanish Ministry of Defense is investigating.
It is a need that is often obscured by the large number of major military programs, but that was again put on the table with the media by Admiral Chief of Staff (AJEMA) Admiral General Teodoro Lpez Caldern in La Meridiana It once again warned of the capabilities that the Navy has lost to successive crises and before the needs that urgently need to be met.
The Navy’s Hydrographic Flotilla is under the command of the Commanding Director of the Navy’s Hydrographic Institute, which is framed by the Fleet’s Maritime Action Force. Its main task is to collect data, mainly bathymetric data for the elaboration of the official sea cartography of Spain.
This is worked out through various techniques such as hydrographic surveys, underwater relief exploration, updating directions, lighthouse books, radio-electrical aids, installing tide or tide rules for calculating hydrographic zero point, photographing the coast or verifying mileage markers. They usually work with other government agencies such as Rescue Maritime or State Ports.
The Hydrographic Flotilla has three very experienced ships such as the Malaspina (A-31) and the Tofio (A-32), both belonging to the same class and built by the Bazn National Company (now Navantia) in La Carraca and San Fernando respectively were delivered to the Navy in 1975. A year earlier, the Antares (A-23), the third Castor-class ship designed and built in San Fernando, had been put into service.
In addition to these vessels are the Transportable Hydrographic Boats (LHT) Astrolabio (A-91) and Escandallo (A-92), which entered service in 2001 and 2004 and were built at Rodman Polyships’ shipyards in Vigo. Their main task is to carry out hydrographic surveys with full coverage of the seabed in ports, access channels and anchorages. In 2016 the most modern Sondaleza (A-93) was put into service. (Jos M Navarro Garca)
Photo: The hydrographic ship Tofio (Spanish Navy)
Hydrographic ship Malaspina in San Sebastián (Spanish Navy)
The veteran hydrographic ship Antares (Spanish Navy)
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