Information Systems Technician 2nd Class William Steffler handles a line on the forecastle of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Roosevelt (DDG 80) as the warship prepares to depart Naval Station Rota, Spain, after taking on fuel, Nov. 8, 2022. A wave of letter bombs mailed to the US Embassy in Madrid and five Spanish government offices sparked heightened security at NAVSTA Rota on Dec. 1, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Baker.
In social media messages posted Thursday, Dec. 1, the installation commander, Capt. Teague J. Suarez, wrote that his sailors are working closely with Spanish security services “to implement additional measures to assure your safety and deter any potential threats.”
Although Suarez indicated that his command hadn’t received a letter bomb, he noted that Spanish officials throughout the European country had “intercepted multiple letter bombs over the past few days.”
The suspicious parcel posted to the US Embassy was destroyed in a controlled detonation before anyone could open it, and authorities say Spanish investigators are probing the case.
American diplomats urged all Americans in Spain to review their personal security plans, be aware of their surroundings, and “exercise caution and monitor local news and government websites for detailed information on this situation.”
Builder 3rd Class Ledimir Nuñez, from New York, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, decorates the Christmas tree outside the Navy Exchange on Naval Station Rota, Spain, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James S. Hong.
Suarez didn't specify which steps are being taken to elevate security, and base officials didn’t return Coffee or Die Magazine’s messages seeking comment.
Sprawling across nearly 10 square miles of a Spanish naval base located roughly 85 miles northwest of Gibraltar, NAVSTA Rota is a key logistics hub for NATO warships, featuring three piers and an airfield for US Navy and Air Force aircraft.
Rota doubles as the homeport for the forward-deployed guided-missile destroyers Bulkeley, Arleigh Burke, Roosevelt, and Paul Ignatius; the “Griffins” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 79; and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 8.
But the complex itself is commanded by a Spanish flag officer, and a Spanish flag flies over the base.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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