Four U.S. Navy ships to be stationed at Rota as part of missile defense system

Stars and Stripes
By Geoff Ziezulewicz
October 5, 2011

Four U.S. Navy ships will be stationed at Naval Station Rota, Spain, beginning in 2013 as part of a European missile defense system, defense officials announced Wednesday.

The ships will bring with them about 3,000 U.S. military personnel and family members, roughly doubling the American community in Rota, which presently serves as a logistics hub and has no ships home-ported there.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hailed the agreement as a first step in a 10-year European missile defense plan, as well as a vindication of the alliance’s relevance.

“This announcement should send a very strong signal that the United States is still continuing to invest in this alliance,” Panetta said. …

The ships will act as a floating defense shield against potential missile strikes from Iran.

All are equipped with the Aegis combat system, a complex array of sensors, communications and weapons systems that can detect, track and fire on incoming missiles and other threats, according to the Navy.

These ships make up the first piece of the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense plan, which the White House introduced in 2009 and NATO endorsed last year.

Last month, Turkey agreed to emplace U.S. early warning radar on its soil, facing Iran and linked to the Aegis system. …

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