South African maritime watchers, led by the South African Navy, will have eyes peeled on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront this week when the Spanish Navy vessel Rayo pays her first visit to local waters.
The visit, which will also take in Durban, will enhance co-operation and ties with the local maritime arm of service as well as providing crew rest following deployment as part of the European Union Naval Force’s anti-piracy Operation Atalanta off the Horn of Africa.
Rayo is a new offshore patrol vessel and her deployment off the east coast of Africa was her first operational tasking. Prior to arrival in Cape Town on Wednesday, Rayo ported in Mozambique as part of a planned voyage around Africa. In addition to her two South African stops, Rayo will also call on other friendly countries as part of her transit back to her home port of Las Palmas Arsenal in the Canary Islands.
She has been part of the EUNavFor anti-piracy operation since March.
Rayo is the fourth ocean patrol vessel of the Meteoro Class (maritime action ships) designed to protect Spanish areas of maritime interest as well as maintaining a foreign naval presence for the Mediterranean country. Rayo is also equipped to carry out a number of other maritime security tasks as required with her 75-strong crew.
As with other Meteoro Class vessels, Rayo was built at Navantia’s San Fernando shipyard. She was launched in May 2010 and commissioned a year later.
Rayo has a displacement of 2 500 tons and measures just short of 100 metres in length.
She will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday while at anchor in the V&A Waterfront.
ESPS Rayo has had a busy year, earlier this month capturing a skiff with six suspected pirates 320 nautical miles off the Somali coast. As there was not enough evidence to prosecute the suspects, they were returned to the Somali coast. In March ESPS Rayo has escorted the MV Royal Grace to safety after it was released by Somali pirates.