NAVSTA Rota Begins Major Shoreline Preservation Project

Story by MC3 Mari Jang, NAVSTA Rota Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain – Naval Station Rota held a ceremonial groundbreaking event Jan. 19, 2018, marking the beginning of construction efforts to stabilize erosion on the installation’s shoreline in what is the largest land reclamation project undertaken by the Naval Construction Force since the 1970s.

Commanding officers from Naval Station Rota, Spanish Armada, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, Task Force 68 and Public Works walk to the Cliff Erosion Repair project site to hold a ceremonial ground breaking event. (Photo by MC3 M. Jang)


Capt. Michael MacNicholl, Naval Station Rota commanding officer, Capt. Enrique Flethes, Spanish Armada executive officer, Capt. Leonard Lyon, commodore, Task Force 68, Cmdr. James Sullivan, Naval Station Rota public works officer, and Cmdr. Luke Greene, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 commanding officer presided over the event.

“I’d like to thank our Spanish partners for everything they have done to enable us to proceed with this project, which, is important not only to the U.S. mission but to the Spanish mission here as well.” said MacNicholl. “We have infrastructure that’ll be impacted if the cliff line continues to erode. 110 yards away is one of our fuel tanks. That fuel tank feeds not only the U.S. Navy but the Spanish Navy, as well as, many other partners that we work with here in this theatre.”

Since the 1960s, the installation’s cliff edge facing the Bay of Cadiz has been gradually eroding. Two main factors causing the erosion are the effects of wave action at high tide undermining the base of the cliff and pressure caused by groundwater seeping out from the face of the cliff.

Five iconic gold colored groundbreaking ceremony shovels are propped for a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 19, 2018, at the Cliff Erosion Repair project site. (Photo courtesy of NMCB 133)

This project is a multi-year effort to stabilize 950 meters of shoreline encompassing Naval Station Rota’s base housing area. Construction teams will build a nearly kilometer-long berm using more than 210,000 metric tons of rock. This berm will protect the shoreline from wave action and allow the cliff to gradually reach an equilibrium point and stabilize. In other words, the cliff line will eventually transform into a gentle slope.

“It will take several years until the cliff reaches its final equilibrium point and stabilizes,” said Lt. Michael Rovinsky, NMCB 133 project coordinator. “The berm we are constructing will act as the ‘toe’ for the shoreline anchoring the hillside in place.”

After three years of NAVFAC planning that included design as well as archaeological and environmental reviews, NMCB 133 kicked-off the project by building a work area for material laydown and beach access in December 2017.

“One of the biggest challenges with this project was ensuring we made every effort to protect the natural and cultural resources that would be in and around the construction site,” said Rovinsky. “The vegetation in the area is a known habitat for chameleons, an endangered species. The area is also rich with archaeological remains. A local contractor was hired in order to ensure the area was free of chameleons and there is an archaeological monitor onsite to check for any artifacts or remains to protect the archaeological resources.”

The bulk of the work will be accomplished by Navy Seabee battalions conducting routine deployments to Naval Station Rota. Rovinsky said communication will be key to success as turnover is conducted by rotating battalions that will be working on the project.

The cliff erosion repair project is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA).

Commanding officers from Naval Station Rota, Spanish Navy, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, Task Force 68 and Public Works participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Jan. 19, 2018, at the Cliff Erosion Repair project site. (Photo by M. Jang)

Just as a ship performs lines of operation that provide a capability, Navy Region EURAFSWA bases perform the same eight lines of operation to provide capability to the fleet, joint and allied forces. These eight lines of operation are: air operations, port operations, safety, security, housing, MWR, Fleet and Fleet and Family Services and what is called the core: the fuels, water and power that keep the bases running. Through our lines of operation, our installations are force multipliers that maximize combat capability of operational units.

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