Príncipe de Asturias, originally Almirante Carrero Blanco, was built at the Bazan Shipyard and commissioned with the Spanish Navy on 30 May 1988.
The arms race during the cold war led to the rapid development of modern aircraft carriers to counterbalance the Soviet Union. In Europe, Britain, France, Italy and Spain were all working to develop their own aircraft carriers. For Spain, the result was the birth of the Principe de Asturias aircraft carrier.
Príncipe de Asturias, originally Almirante Carrero Blanco, was built at the Bazan Shipyard and commissioned with the Spanish Navy on 30 May 1988. She was officially decommissioned in February 2013.
Principe de Asturias has a full load displacement of 16,700 tons, a length of 195.9 m, a beam of 24.3 m, and a draft of 9.4 m. In terms of design the Principe de Asturias was quite similar to the British Invincible class. She was fitted with a 12° ski-jump ramp blended into the bow. Two aircraft lifts were fitted, one of them at the extreme stern, and these were used to move aircraft from the hangar, which had an area of 2,300 m².
The island superstructure was set aft of amidships and offset to the starboard side. The vessel supported up to 29 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft while it typically carried just 12 Harrier IIs and a collection of 6 navy helicopters. The Principe de Asturias has a crew of 830 personnel including 600 of the base enlisted crew and 230 making up the air wing.
The full digital Tritan command and control system was fitted with the Link 11 and Link 14 data transmission terminals of the Naval Tactical Display System, and there was also the standard complex of air and surface surveillance radars, aircraft and gun control radars, and counter-measures both electronic and physical.
For self-defense, the Principe de Asturias was granted 4 x FABA Meroka Mod 2B Close-In Weapon Systems and 12 x 20mm Oerlikon L120 anti-aircraft cannons. The ship also carried two LCVPs, and two pairs of stabilizers are fitted for stability in heavier seas. For anti-submarine defense, she relied upon the detection capacity and attacks of her ASW helicopters and accompanying frigate battle group.
Propulsion was managed through 2 x Bazan-General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines arranged in COmbined Gas And Gas configuration. Maximum speed was 26 knots in ideal conditions with an operational range reaching 6,500 nautical miles.
Principe de Asturias was decommissioned in 2013 as a cost-cutting measure due to Spain’s budget problems. Her successor was Juan Carlos I.