RogerBW's Blog

Mendez Nunez 05 May 2015

When we were on our way to see Defender last Saturday, we spotted this Spanish frigate moored at West India Docks. I was able to get back to see her in a bit more detail on Monday. Images follow: cc-by-sa on everything.

Things one does not expect to see in Docklands.

The F100 (Álvaro de Bazán) frigates are general-purpose ships with a focus on anti-air warfare, mounting the American AEGIS system and SM2 Standard missiles with plans to add SM3s at some point. They're an interesting design, taking fairly stock American parts (the SPY-1, Mk41 VLS, 5" gun, Harpoon rack and Seahawk) and combining them in slightly unusual ways.

Méndez Núñez had been on exercises in the North Sea with the Royal Navy during previous weeks, and was now pausing on her way home. (Our guides' English was not always of the best, and I sometimes ended up translating since I may not speak Spanish but I do speak Navy; but that was the impression I got.)

The antenna plates for the SPY-1D radar are clearly visible on the superstructure. The original plan was to use the SPY-1F, which is smaller and rather less capable, but the -1D was squeezed in instead.

5" lightweight gun.

Portside Harpoon mount.

Boat davits, port side.

Squadron marking (all five of the F100s are in the 31st Escort Squadron).

Port forward corner of flight deck.

Flight deck with SH-60B.

Aft superstructure, over the hangar. In theory the ship's capable of being equipped with a Phalanx anti-missile system, though this hasn't been done; I assume it would go somewhere around here.

Tops of superstructure, from aft.

Nameplate on hangar block.

I haven't been able to identify these arms.

The ship wasn't open for viewing on Saturday, but I was able to get back on a rather sunnier Monday for a tour. The 5" gun mount:

Harpoons and davits:

Flight deck railings and nameplate:

Waterling with various lading markers (somewhat hard to read).

SH-60B LAMPS III Seahawk on the flight deck.

APS-124 Surface-search radome.

Nose with FLIR turret.

An unexpected protrusion in the flight deck. Might be for operations in bad weather?

Hangar entrance. The hangar seems to take up less than half the width of the ship.

Inside the hangar (and our guide, Jésus).

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence badge; STELLAR ATHENA FTM-12 was a missile interception exercise conducted in June 2007.

Hangar details.

Internal details. They asked me not to take photographs inside, so I stopped; they didn't seem to realise that if someone's holding up a phone that goes "ker-click" it is probably taking a photograph.

48-cell VLS deck, which doesn't protrude from the deck quite as much as the one aboard Defender. ("Danger, keep clear of launcher area.")

Ship's bell. I didn't have the heart to ask why it wasn't polished like the RN ones.

Bridge from foredeck. We were actually allowed to walk around the bridge, though not (officially) to photograph. The only "real" control was the engine telegraph, carefully enclosed in a perspex box; some keyboards and trackballs were built in, some lying around loose on desktops. There was a paper chart of the Docks, though it was out of date (it didn't show the Crossrail construction that now blocks access to West India North Dock).

5" gun. It's integrated with the air defence system, in theory, but mostly it's there as on Middleton and Defender for menacing surface ships. One can't readily point a VLS at a miscreant, or use it to fire a shot across his bows.

Every cannon in the Spanish armed forces has its own name, apparently. Though I imagine that they are not unique names.

A rather fine ceremonial muzzle cap.


Warning on portside Harpoon launcher.

Between the two superstructure segments, including the starboard Harpoon launcher. (American ships with the same mount tend to have the pair of them in a V shape on the centreline, and a heavy pad to prevent the deck being melted by backblast. These ships hang the launcher over the side, so that the port launcher fires missiles to starboard, and thus avoid the backblast problem completely.)

More of the SH-60B.

Pennant number rather more visible in bright sunlight than it had been on the dull Saturday.

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 11:42am on 05 May 2015

    I assumed it was OK to put a link on my blog to here. Thank you for posting the pictures.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:45am on 05 May 2015

    Absolutely; this is a public blog.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:56pm on 05 May 2015

    I like the simple but effective trick of having missile back blast go over the side. Cheap and reliable.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 01:00pm on 05 May 2015

    I suppose one could argue that it might increase seawater corrosion, but the tubes are weather-sealed anyway.

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