Compared to other military bases in Europe, Naval Station Rota, Spain is way different. If other bases are mostly operated by the US government under the strict regulations of other governments, this one is actually operated by the Spanish Vice Admiral. The connection with the United States of America comes with the money. In other words, the base is fully funded by the USA. The base is located in Rota, a small town close to El Puerto de Santa Maria. The base inhabitants form the largest US community on the Spanish territory. It hosts sailors, Marines, US Army troops and US Air Force experts. Most of the inhabitants are American. The base is fully operational and run by both countries through a mutual agreement. This means it is a co-base.
According to the US government, the base is said to be the gate to the Mediterranean. It includes an airfield and a port. The location is very useful and strategic. The base is placed close to the Straits of Gibraltar. At the same time, it is in the middle of the distance between Southwest Asia and the United States of America. It used to cover over 6000 acres and provides support for most other bases located in Europe. At the same time, it is an excellent “ally” for NATO.
NS Rota dates since 1953. It is the result of a Spanish dictator’s work. Francisco Franco decided to improve the Spanish relationships with the United States, half a century after the bloody war. The new connections were meant to improve the local economy. He provided the Americans with one of the most strategic points on the Spanish map, well known in the history for previous operations – Cadiz.
The first important submarines joined the base in 1964. By 1980, multiple equipments were brought there, not to mention about the significant improvements. Some of the submarines left, while new ones were joining in a continuous replacement process. The base reached its peak in 1980, when it hosted over 16000 troops and their families, plus a few permanent squadrons. After the end of the Cold War, the popularity dropped a little, as well as the area covered. For instance, the station only covers 5200 acres these days and hosts not more than 4000 citizens.
One of the black spots in the history of Naval Station Rota took place in April, 2011, when the US Navy commander was relieved of command after a deep investigation regarding the use of drugs. Every year, more and more natives get together on the streets and protest against the presence of the United States troops on the Spanish territory. The marches are peaceful and support the freedom and peace.
The housing system at NS Rota is restricted to the workers and inhabitants. The newcomers will be taken over by a welcome committee and given a home, depending on their needs and possibilities. They can choose to rent or to buy. Their families can also be hosted at the base.