On October 7, 1571, the Spanish Navy led a large allied fleet in one of the most decisive naval battles in history.
That battle took place in the Gulf of Patras, near the present-day Greek city of Nafpactos, then known as Lepanto. At the Battle of Lepanto, the Holy League, led by Spain, achieved a resounding victory against the Ottoman Empire. The Spanish Tercios played a great role in that battle and, in addition, it was one of the great battles carried out by the Spanish Marine Infantry, the oldest in the world, founded in 1537.
Today the Spanish Navy continues to sail through those waters, the Ionian Sea, in which that famous naval battle took place. Currently it does so not with the old 16th century galleys, but with the "Méndez Núñez" F-104 frigate of the Álvaro de Bazán class (also known as F-100), which are among the ships most advanced warfighters of their kind in NATO.
The frigate "Méndez Núñez" is currently deployed with the Second Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG2) in the Ionian Sea, and at the end of September it made a stopover in the Greek port of Patras, very close to the place of the Battle of Lepanto, to embark fuel and supplies, according to communicated by the Commander of SNMG2.
Patras is the third largest city in Greece. It has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants. Despite the Christian victory at Lepanto, Patras continued under Ottoman rule until 1828, except for the Venetian occupation from 1687 to 1714. It is a city with a very long history of 4,000 years, with a typically Mediterranean and an important tourist destination. Its port usually receives many cruise ships like the one we see in this photo.
For Spain, Patras is linked to an episode of courage and glory, which the Spanish Navy has remembered with a tribute to the Fallen in Lepanto, celebrated on the flight deck of the frigate "Méndez Núñez" taking advantage of his stopover in that Greek city. As reported today by General Staff of Defense (EMAD), the tribute was celebrated at the exit of the port, with a floral offering.
"This war episode, which occurred more than 450 years ago, demonstrated the naval capabilities of the kingdom of Spain with its embarked Tercios that achieved victory against the Ottoman forces," recalls the EMAD. " Spanish sailors remember this feat every time they sing the Navy anthem", it adds. In its lyrics, this hymn says the following:
"The empire will come to Spain
Along the paths of the sea.
It is our duty to die or triumph,
What history teach us:
In Lepanto the Victory
And death at Trafalgar."
The EMAD also points out that the frigate "Méndez Núñez" has been integrated into the SNMG-2 since August 18, and points out that it is "a naval group formed by naval units of different countries currently deployed in the Mediterranean as 'Very Fast Maritime Reaction Force' (VJTF-M)." In addition to the F-104, at the end of September another ship of the Spanish Navy, the Combat Supply Ship (BAC) "Patiño" A-14 also joined the SNMG-2. Currently, the frigate "Méndez Núñez" sails through the eastern Mediterranean in the company of the Italian frigate "Carlo Margottini" F-592 and the British destroyer HMS Duncan D-37.
Photos: Estado Mayor de la Defensa / SNMG2.
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