Santa Maria (F81) Award Ceremony

Rota Fire and Emergency Services receives award for onboard fire assistance

On October 7, 2022 at 9:05 p.m., the Naval Station (NAVSTA) of the Fire and Emergency Services of Rota (F&ES) responded to a major fire aboard the Spanish frigate Santa Maria (F81).

At 9:11 p.m. Engine 2 arrived on scene reporting heavy smoke from outside and ship’s forces requested assistance with refueling operations.
At 9:17 p.m. Ladder 1 arrived on scene and was tasked with cooling the upper deck of the ship with overhead main flow.

At the scene, Christopher Cruz, deputy chief of operations, is informed that there are people trapped in the front of the ship, including children who were unable to escape the huge amount of smoke. Seeing the danger, Ladder 1 moves to begin rescue operations. By extending the pier ladder to the ship’s nose, NAVSTA Rota firefighters were able to rescue 24 people and bring them to the medical triage area.
NAVSTA Rota Fire Chief Shane Rayfield described the scene as “smoke everywhere” and “unbelievable”. However, he pointed out that his team are prepared for challenges like this due to their training.

“At that time, everyone knew their role due to our extensive training and our main objective was to get everyone down safely and then support the ship’s crew and save the ship,” a- he declared.

Once everyone was safe, the ship’s forces then requested assistance in fighting the interior fire. Hoses were brought forward from scale 1 and Rota F&ES worked with the ship’s crew to attack the fire. Fortunately, at the time of the fire, the two hangars were not occupied by any helicopter. Firefighting crews quickly extinguished the remaining fire and began overhaul procedures. Around 11:45 p.m., Rota F&ES finished its response.

Damage from the fire was confined to three compartments and extinguished, limiting further damage. Considering all the challenges with a joint international response, it was a very successful outcome.

Fast forward a few months and the Santa Maria is back in service and ready to deploy. Cmdt. Frigata captain Alfonso Moreno Cividanes thanked Chief Rayfield for the quick response and hard work of his staff during an awards ceremony aboard the Santa Maria, November 4, 2022.

During the ceremony, Rayfield and Moreno Cividanes began talks to continue training together. Prior to this fire, there was no joint response history for a major fire aboard any US or Spanish vessel at NAVSTA Rota. Additionally, no joint onboard firefighting training was conducted between the two agencies.

“We train all the time with the Spanish Bomberos on the flight line,” Rayfield said.

While this has been a success, NAVSTA Rota F&ES will continue to reach out and find opportunities to strengthen the relationship with the Spanish Navy and in the hopes of leading to more joint training, information sharing, familiarization of Spanish vessels and more effective responses in the future.

Date taken: 12.01.2022
Date posted: 12.09.2022 04:43
Story ID: 434820
Location: ES

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