Spanien — Rota Receives Diverted Military Flights

ROTA, Spain, April 20, 2010 — Naval Sta­tion Rota and Moron Air Base in Spain have absorbed many U.S. mil­i­tary flights divert­ed from north­ern Euro­pean routes by ash being spewed from an Ice­land vol­canic erup­tion.

Rota typ­i­cal­ly aver­ages eight to 13 flights a day, but saw dou­ble that amount over the week­end. Moron Air Base usu­al­ly aver­ages one or two flights a day, but had about 10 times that num­ber.

Air Force C-17 and C-5 transports sit on the flightline at Naval Station Rota, Spain
Air Force C‑17 and C‑5 trans­ports sit on the flight­line at Naval Sta­tion Rota, Spain, April 17, 2010. Naval Sta­tion Rota and Moron Air Base absorbed many U.S. mil­i­tary flights that were divert­ed from north­ern Euro­pean routes due to ash being spewed from an Ice­land vol­canic erup­tion.
U.S. Air Force pho­to by Mas­ter Sgt. Kei­th Mey­ers

Navy Cmdr. Tom Eber­hard, exec­u­tive offi­cer for Naval Sta­tion Rota, expressed con­fi­dence in the station’s abil­i­ty to han­dle the chal­lenge.

“Because of the incred­i­ble team­work between our Navy and Air Force per­son­nel, … we are able to meet this increased demand,” he said. “We have some of the best sailors and air­men in the world. They are always focused on accom­plish­ing the mis­sion.”

Vol­canic ash cre­ates a cloud that is haz­ardous to engines. When absorbed into the engine, it can cause the engine to flame out. Air Mobil­i­ty Com­mand flights that usu­al­ly tra­verse the north­ern Euro­pean air route were divert­ed to the south­ern, Mediter­ranean route via Rota and Moron to avoid the haz­ard.

Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Can­non, deputy com­man­der of the 521st Air Mobil­i­ty Oper­a­tions Group, said AMC has a fixed route infra­struc­ture to han­dle its air­craft, and although it is a fixed route, it is very flex­i­ble.

“We are meet­ing U.S. Trans­porta­tion Com­mand require­ments by flex­ing our capa­bil­i­ty to our fixed loca­tions to han­dle the air flow,” he said. “The men and women here at the 725th Air Mobil­i­ty Squadron have adapt­ed to meet the work­load by increas­ing the work shifts and duty hours to han­dle the increase in traf­fic.”

A team of mechan­ics from bases not affect­ed by the ash cloud was sent to Moron in con­junc­tion with the 496th Air Base Squadron to work on planes as they tran­sit from Europe and the Unit­ed States.

“We love it when there are a lot of [air­craft] tails on the ramp,” Can­non said. “Air mobil­i­ty pro­fes­sion­als take a lot of pride in the fact they are push­ing a lot of car­go and men through the sys­tem to the fight and back to the states. The work load has dou­bled; we rolled up our sleeves and did the work.”

Can­non said the Navy is a won­der­ful part­ner in Rota. Naval Facil­i­ties Engi­neer­ing Com­mand pro­vid­ed a bus and dri­ver to trans­port main­tain­ers from Rota to Moron. “The sup­port from the Navy at Rota, as usu­al, is phe­nom­e­nal,” he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)