Monday, 13 January 2014

The latest Spanish Navy patrol vessels

During my recent visit to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands I saw three Spanish Navy patrol vessels. The were the SNS Meteoro (P41), …

… the SNS Rayo (P42), …

…and the SNS Relámpago (P43).

The fourth ship of the class – the SNS Tornado (P44) – was not present.

These four ships were designed by the Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and are modular in design (i.e. the basic design can be modified to perform a number of functions). They are rated as BAM (Buque de Acción Marítima) and are designed to:
  • Combine high performance with mission versatility.
  • Have high commonality with other ships operated by the Spanish Navy.
  • Have reduced acquisition and life-cycle costs in comparison with similar vessels operated by other navies.
Class Characteristics
  • Displacement: 2,500 tonnes (full load)
  • Length: 93.9m
  • Beam: 14.2m
  • Draft: 4.2m
  • Propulsion: 2 MTU 16-valve 1163 diesel engines powering two variable pitch propellers via a diesel-electric transmission system that uses 2 Siemens electric motors. Each ship is also equipped with 2 x bow thrusters, 4 x MTU 12-valve 2000 diesel generators, and 1 x MTU S60 emergency generator
  • Speed: 20 knots
  • Range: 8700 miles
  • Complement: 46 crew (and 30 additional personnel, as required)
  • Armament: 1 x 76mm OTO Breda or OTO Melara Gun, 2 x 25mm Mk38 MOD 2A Automatic Cannons, 2 × 12.7mm machine guns, 4 x SRBOC Mk36 chaff launchers
  • Aircraft carried: 1 × NH-90 helicopter (as required)
  • Electronic systems and sensors: Dorna 2 fire control system, Scomba combat system, Rigel electronic warfare system, CIT-25D IFF, Tacan MM-6800 navigation set, HC Aries 2 navigation radar, Sperry Vision master FT navigation radar
76mm OTO Melara Gun as fitted to SNS Rayo.
SNS Rayo's bridge and sensors arrays.
The midships section of SNS Rayo showing the hanger doors for the ship's boats.
One of SNS Rayo's 25mm Mk38 MOD 2A Automatic Cannons.
SNS Relámpago's helicopter hanger doors and the helicopter landing deck.
The Spanish plan to build another four or five ships of this class, but that they may well be configured to perform other roles.

Bearing in mind that Navantia's Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate design has been used as the basis for the Norwegian Navy's Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates and the Australian Navy's Hobart-class destroyers, one wonders if developments of the Meteoro-class may be built for other navies.


  1. Wow! I didn't know we had those ships here in Spain... are you sure they are not a fake? Probably they will nbot be put to sail due to lack of mnoney for fuel

    With the budget cuts the operational army-size has been reduced to a 10,000 men force according to the national newspapers although the nominal force is close to 200,000

  2. Anibal Invictus,

    I can assure you that they are real ... but I have no idea how often they go to sea!

    Budget cuts seen to be affecting a lot of European armed forces. Ships like this - which are cheaper to build and operate than sophisticated frigates and destroyers - mean that a cash-strapped navy can at least keep the number of hulls they have available at a reasonable level. In the UK we have been scrapping or selling ships that we would have kept in service even ten years ago because we cannot afford to operate them.

    All the best,


  3. These vessels look very versatile, don't they, though perhaps not the prettiest vessels afloat. One thing that would trouble me an I were a Minister of Marine: they don't seem especially speedy. I reckon I would have wanted another 10 knots out of a vessel like that.

    The problem Spain has (as well as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others) is they are heeding the dumbarse IMF 'austerity' advice which, predictably, made things worse. There will come a time, if it has not yet arrived, in which the IMF and the rest of the 'Neoliberal' (Paleofascist) economic advisers will suggest that border security be farmed out to private enterprise... You can see where that will lead, eh?

  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    The speed quoted seems rather low, and I suspect that they might able to go a bit faster than 20 knots. Furthermore, they may not look very pretty, BUT they look capable of dealing with fairly rough seas. (I can personally testify to how rough the seas around the Canary Islands can be!)

    The problem that the rest of Europe would have if the border security of Spain, Italy, and Greece were 'privatised' would be the ability - or otherwise - of the 'contractors' to deal with illegal migration from North Africa and the Middle East. The Maltese and Italians are only just able to cope now.

    All the best,