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Principe de Asturias

Light aircraft carrier

Principe de Asturias

The Principe de Asturias is analogous in many respects to the British Invincible class

Entered service 1988
Crew 555 men
Flag staff and Aircrew 208 men
Dimensions and displacement
Length 195.9 m
Beam 24.3 m
Draught 9.4 m
Flight deck length 175.3 m
Flight deck width 29 m
Displacement, full load 16 700 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 26 knots
Gas turbines 2 x 46 000 hp
Fixed-wing 6 - 12 x AV-8B
Helicopters 2 x SH-60B Seahawk
2 - 4 x AB 212
6 - 10 x SH-3H Sea King
Artillery 4 x 12-barrel Meroka 20-mm CIWS


   To replace the Dedalo (ex-Independence-class light aircraft carrier USS Cabot) from 1986, the Spanish navy placed a 29 June 1977 contract for a vessel with gas turbine propulsion. The design of the new Spanish ship, prepared by Gibbs and Cox of New York, was based on the Enal design variant of the US Navy's abortive Sea Control Ship. Originally to have been named the Almirante Carrero Blanco but then renamed as the Principe de Asturias before being launched, the new ship is analogous in many respects to the three British light aircraft carriers of the Invincible class.

   The Principe de Asturias was laid down on 8 October 1979 at the Ferrol yard of the Bazan company, was launched on 22 May 1982, and commissioned on 30 May 1988. The long period between the launch and the commissioning was attributable to the need for changes to the command and control system, and also to the addition of a flag bridge to facilitate the ship's use in the command role.

   The Principe de Asturias has a flight deck measuring 175.3 m (575 ft 2 in) in length and 29 m (95 ft 2 in) in width, and this is fitted with a 12 ski-jump ramp blended into the bow. Two aircraft lifts are fitted, one of them at the extreme stern, and these are used to move aircraft (both fixed- and rotary-wing) from the hangar, which has an area of 2 300 m (24 760 sq ft).

   For the Principe de Asturias air wing, Spain ordered the EAV-8B (VA.2) Harrier II V/STOL multi-role warplane (from early 1996, radar-equipped Harrier II Plus were delivered) and the SH-60B Seahawk ASW helicopter. The standard aircraft complement is 24, although this can be increased to 37 in times of crisis with the aid of flight-deck parking. The standard aircraft mix is six to 12 AV-8Bs, two SH-60Bs, two to four AB 212 ASW helicopters, and 6-10 SH-3H Sea King helicopters.

   The full digital Tritan command and control system is fitted with the Link 11 and Link 14 data transmission/reception terminals of the Naval Tactical Display System, and there is also the standard complex of air and surface surveillance radars, aircraft and gun control radars, and counter-measures both electronic and physical. The ship also carries two LCVPs, and two pairs of stabilizers are fitted for stability in heavier seas.

   Another ship, Chakri Naruebet, is generally similar to the Principe de Asturias. It was built by Bazan for the Royal Thai navy and commissioned in 1997.

   The Principe de Asturias was decommissioned in 2013 as a cost cutting measure due to Spain's budget problems. Its tasks were passed on to Juan Carlos I amphibious assault ship.


Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Principe de Asturias (R11) 1979 1982 1988




Video of the Principe de Asturias light aircraft carrier


Principe de Asturias

Principe de Asturias

Principe de Asturias

Principe de Asturias

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