Rota was established in 1953, following the signing of an agreement for facilities use between the United States and Kingdom of Spain. The agreement required two years of surveys, negotiations and planning which led to ground breaking on the base in 1955.
Rota Naval Base was constructed under the technical supervision of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks. Some 10,000 concrete tetrapods, resembling large jacks, were carefully placed to provide a seawall to protect a large artificial harbor.
Naval Station Rota is located on the Bay of Cadiz between the towns of Rota and El Puerto de Santa Maria. Four entry gates - Rota, Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto and Fuentebravia - are operated by Spanish security forces. Security inside the base is provided by both Spanish and U.S. Navy security teams.
The Commander, Naval Activities (COMNAVACT) Spain is headquartered in Rota and serves as the area coordinator for all U.S. Naval Activities ashore in Spain and Portugal. COMNAVACT Spain also serves as the commanding officer of Naval Station Rota. The commander reports directly to Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central, located in Naples, Italy.
Naval Station Rota and its more than 35 tenant commands comprise approximately 3,000 Americans within a 25-mile area. Of those, nearly 1,300 are active duty representing all services; 1,700 are family members and 400 are U.S. civilian employees. There is a projected increase of approximately 1,200 Sailors and 1,600 dependents in the coming years due to four Aegis destroyers homeporting in Rota. Additionally, there are some 300 U.S. military retirees in the area.
The U.S. Navy is responsible for maintaining the station’s infrastructure, including a 670-acre airfield, three active piers, 400 facilities and approximately 375 family housing units.
Naval Station Rota provides support for U.S. and NATO ships, supports the safe and efficient movement of U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force flights and passengers, and provides cargo, fuel and ammunition to units in the region.
NAVSTA Rota is the only base in the European theater capable of supporting Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) post-deployment wash-downs. The base port also offers secure, pier-side maintenance and backload facilities. Naval Station Rota also supports ARG turnovers and hosts Sailors and Marines from visiting afloat units.
The base provides quality of life support to Morón Air Base and National Support Elements in Madrid and Valencia, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal. Rota also supports ongoing operations in the European theater of operations.