Military gathers in and above Tenerife

It was ships ahoy in Santa Cruz as the German Navy paid a visit with the Frigate, Sacasen F219 (below), and support vessel, Frankfurt AM Main A1412. With impeccable timing this happened just as a large scale air combat excercise, involving Spanish and American planes, started out at sea.

Sacasen F219

Sadly reports in the local Canarian press suggesting the gang planks would be rolled out for public access on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm, proved to be very premature. Both ships arrived early on Thurday morning but were moored on the far dock, just behind the Costa Serena cruise liner, and the security guard was not letting anyone beyond his gate without a boarding pass for the liner.

I was tempted to swim out with the camera on my head, but settled for these long shots, at least I have the low down on both vessels. Sacasen F219 is the smaller but weighs in at 5,600 tons, is 143 metres long and can power up to 29 knots. It has 255 crew, under Captain Markus Nolte, and has anti aircraft guns.

The combat support ship, Frankfurt AM Main A1412 (below), is much bulkier at 22,240 tons, is 174 metres long, and can do 19 knots. Captain Stefan Berger, keeps the 169 crew all ship shape, and makes sure they have plenty of supplies on board to back up the Sacasen. Both ships had just come in from Gibralter and will head out at 3pm on Sunday to Brazil, Colombia, Iceland and the UK. Normally they have another friend in tow, but the Lubeck F214 is currently in Italy undergoing repairs.

Frankfurt AM Main A1412

So much for the sea, what’s happening up in the skies? From February 27 to March 13, air combat training is taking place 70 miles off the Tenerife coast. Spain is bringing it’s Eurofighter F18 and Mirage F1 and will be joined in a few days by America’s F15 and F493 from their base at Lakenheath in Norfolk. You shouldn’t see the planes but you might just hear the F15, which moves at 2.5 times the speed of sound, and creates a sonic boom. Let battle commence.