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SPS Principe de Asturias in A'dam,  24 March 2006

After visiting MVK De Kooij and Den Helder harbour a week ago Angèl and I went back. This time we had more luck as you will read and see below. The day started around 7 o'clock when we left our Formule 1 Hotel in Zaandam. From here its only 5 minutes to a nice place along the Noordzeekanaal (Northsea-channel). The reason for us to go there was the visit of the Spanish Navy aircraft carrier SPS Principe de Asturias. After waiting two hours the ship finally came by on its way to the Amerika-harbour of Amsterdam. As you can see below it was really an awesome sight.


When the SPS Principe de Asturias entered the Amerika-harbour of Amsterdam we departed and drove towards MVK De Kooij. Only 5 minutes after we arrived here the first of five Royal Navy Lynx helicopters arrived. The Canadian Sea King which we already saw last week was flying a local mission and arrived almost the same time as the Lynx'. We decided to enter the base as Angèl wanted to take some pictures of the fire trucks and I wanted to take some pictures of the nice visitors. We were again pretty lucky as you can see below.


After we left MVK De Kooij we drove towards the "Koninklijke Marine Nieuwe Haven" in Den Helder. Since last week much more Navy ships had arrived. Again most of the helicopters were parked inside the ships hangars, but this time we decided to try to get on board these ships. The first ship we tried was de SPS Castilla of the Spanish Navy, which was the only ship at that time with a helicopter on the deck. Unfortunately it was not allowed to enter the ship, but later I found out that there was only one Sea King parked on board the ship. After this we visited all the ships which had helicopters on board and we even had a nice tour on board the Turkish Navy ship TCG Gelibolu. After we visited all the ships, we left the Naval Base at Den Helder and drove back home.   (Click here for a full log of the day)



History of the SPS Principe de Asturias


The SPS Principe de Asturias aircraft carrier has been in service with the Spanish Navy since 1988. The 17,190t ship was built by Izar (formerly E.N. Bazan) and is based at the Rota naval air base. The layout of the ship was partly derived from the design of the US Navy Sea Control Ship. The hull was laid down in 1979 and the ship was launched in 1982. The integration of a Tritan Digital Command and Control System and the installation of a Flag Bridge to meet the requirements of the Spanish Navy delayed the commissioning of the SPS Principe de Asturias until 1988. The Spanish Navy is planning a mid-life upgrade for the vessel to make it more effective for littoral warfare. The upgrades will include improving anti-ship defense and the command system. The ship supports up to twelve EAV-8B Harrier II Plus and Harrier II (being upgraded to Harrier II Plus configuration). The Harriers are armed with AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and AGM-65E Maverick air-to-ground missiles, in addition to GAU-12U cannon. The carrier also has facilities to support up to twelve helicopters, usually six Sikorsky Sea King SH-3H, four Agusta AB-212 and two Sikorsky SH-3 AEW helicopters. The ship normally supports a maximum of 29 fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft with up to twelve on deck and 13 aircraft in the hangar. In an emergency a maximum of 17 aircraft can be stored in the 2,300m² hangar. The hangar deck is accessed by two flight deck lifts. The 5,100m² flight deck is 176m in length and includes a 12° ski jump 46.5m in length.




Copyright © 2006 by Rob Hendriks


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