Defense Media Network

Forward-deployed Ships at Rota Provide Europe Ballistic Missile Defense

FDNF DDGs are able to conduct a full range of naval missions


The U.S. Navy is stationing four Aegis guided missile destroyers (DDGs) at Rota, Spain, as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA), under a presidential directive to provide protection against ballistic missiles for Europe. Two of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) ships – USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and USS Ross (DDG 71) – have already been operating from Rota. USS Porter (DDG 78) has just arrived, and USS Carney (DDG 64) will be arriving soon.

The ships have been moved to Europe first and foremost for ballistic missile defense (BMD), but they retain their ability to conduct the full range of combat operations.

Pekari says Naval Station Rota is the Spanish navy’s version of Norfolk. “It’s their biggest navy base. They have nine combatants or support ships that are stationed here.”

“These ships have to be ready and be on-call to respond to the full spectrum of missions. It will not just be BMD,” says Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, U.S. naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa.

Ross returns Rota

Sailors man the rails of the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) as the ship returns to Naval Station Rota following its first patrol since being forward-deployed to Europe. Ross returned from conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Baird

“One FDNF ship represents three ships that Fleet Forces Command would have to generate and put through the cycle in order to be over here for a certain level of deployment. The four allow me to keep some on the BMD stations in the eastern Med; allow me to do maintenance and training; and support work with our allies and partners in other missions for NATO or U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) as those missions arise – supplemented by other rotational forces from the U.S.,” Ferguson says. “Having the ships based in Rota builds the expertise and gives me a pool of forces to draw on for more than just BMD.”


It’s all about the base

Rota is a busy operating base and logistics hub, and the base was built to support growth. Before FDNF, transiting ships on their way to the 5th or 6th Fleet would stop for food, fuel and supplies. That still happens, but Capt. Greg Pekari, the commanding officer of Naval Station Rota, says FDNF has made the base busier in many ways. There’s housing, schools, the exchange, and commissary already in place, but some new infrastructure, base support, training and maintenance facilities are needed.

In fact, Naval Station Rota boasts the biggest weapons magazine and biggest strategic war reserve of fuel in the region. “We have 24 tanks, three different types of fuel, up to 55 million gallons that we can store, and our weapons magazine, and all of that within a single, secure fence line, and very strategically located,” says Pekari. “But new utility improvements, warehouses, training facilities and weapons magazines for the SM-3 missiles are being built to support FDNF.”

Pekari says Naval Station Rota is the Spanish navy’s version of Norfolk. “It’s their biggest navy base. They have nine combatants or support ships that are stationed here.”

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...