Menorca becomes third NATO naval base in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
naval base

The Naval Base of Mahón on the island of Menorca has become one of the three Spanish bases for logistical support of NATO ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea. Mahón, alongside Rota (Cádiz) and Cartagena (Murcia), is Spain’s third naval NATO base.

In April 2023, the Spanish government offered Mahón to the Atlantic Alliance as a “port with permanent diplomatic permission.” Allied ships participating in Operation Sea Guardian can dock and anchor there at any time. The goal of the operation, led by the Allied Maritime Command (Marcom), is deterrence and protection against terrorist attacks. Additionally, the operation deals with understanding the maritime environment and ensuring regional security.

Menorca offers NATO many options

The Naval Sector Headquarters of the Balearic Islands is located at the Naval Base of Porto Pi, Palma de Mallorca. However, according to sources, the port of Mahón offers better conditions as a logistical support point for NATO. The base is not only situated in a large natural harbour, but also has large fuel depots and water tanks. Furthermore, the new base has unused underground tunnels, which facilitate the resupplying of NATO ships at the docks.

Favourable geographical location

Another advantage of the port of Mahón is its geographical location. Although the port is modest in terms of military equipment, it is strategically positioned relative close to the ports of Marseille (France), Algiers (Algeria), and the Italian island of Sardinia. Moreover, it is centrally located in the western Mediterranean Sea.

Cogesa Expats

Operation Sea Guardian aims to ensure freedom of navigation in the Mediterranean Sea. It also aims to prevent the laying of mines, smuggling of equipment that could be used for the production of weapons of mass destruction, or acts of piracy.

Spain’s significant contribution to NATO

It is planned that in 2024, the Spanish armed forces will contribute a submarine, a maritime surveillance aircraft, a frigate, and a replenishment ship. Spain will also provide a patrol vessel with a special operations team. The team will be permanently ready to intervene in case of crisis.

Mahón has also become a port of call for the permanent NATO fleets that are part of the Response Force of the Atlantic Alliance (NRF) in case of crisis. Due to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, the number of joint naval exercises is increasing. Although the main role is assigned to the port of Rota, experts emphasise that the addition of Mahón to the list of bases supporting NATO fleets underscores Spain’s weight in NATO’s joint maritime strategy.

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