Members of the Spanish Armada, U.S. Navy and local organizations worked together during a multi-lateral exercise simulating a marine diesel fuel spill of in the harbor at Naval Station Rota (NAVSTA) Jan. 31, 2023.

The goal of the exercise was to integrate American and Spanish militaries with other local authorities to practice a quick and efficient response to an oil spill incident, requiring the cooperation of multiple agencies.

“We were pleased to work alongside our Spanish military and civilian counterparts during this bilateral oil spill drill,” said Capt. Teague Suarez, commanding officer of NAVSTA Rota. “It takes an incredible amount of planning, communication, and strategic thinking to pull off an effective spill response, and together we showed that we are ready to tackle any combined operation. We will continue building upon our strategic partnership with Armada Española to reaffirm our mutual defense partnership, and the partnership of all NATO forces on land, in the air or at sea.”

This operational exercise followed multiple “tabletop” discussions centered on training, resource support, and operating procedures followed by all participating members.

“This exercise was a great opportunity to come together with our U.S. partners and increase our knowledge of each other’s capabilities,” Lt. Cmdr. Jose Guerrero, a harbor pilot for the Spanish Armada. “Our goals have always been mutual and I’m excited to conduct more joint exercises in the near future.”

Guerrero was an important figure in the exercise, leading the main coordination between the U.S. Port Operations (Port Ops) and their Spanish counterparts. Working out of the Exercise Operations Center (EOC), he and the U.S. military officials involved in the exercise were able to quickly relay information to effectively manage the response remotely.

The exercise included multiple teams from NAVSTA Rota and tenant commands, including Port Ops, Fire and Emergency Services, Fuels and Environmental, as well as the Spanish Armada’s Port Operations and Environmental.

In addition to the military responders, members of the local community, including Guardia Civil, Salvamento Marítimo, Autoridad Portuaría de la Bahía de Cadíz, and la Capitanía Marítima de Cadíz supported the exercise by simulating cleanup efforts in the Bay of Cadiz.

Located near the Strait of Gibraltar and nestled on the Bay of Cadiz, NAVSTA Rota serves as the “Gateway to the Mediterranean” and provides the U.S. Navy and NATO forces a strategic hub for operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Due to its land, air and sea logistical capacity, NAVSTA Rota’s strength is characterized by its capacity to enable the warfighter, sustain the fleet and foster the U.S. and Spanish partnership.