Cristóbal Colón is the fifth and last ship of the Álvaro de Bazán-class of air defence frigates entering service with the Spanish Navy. Cristóbal Colón Frigate is named after Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer that discovered America in the name of the Crown of Castile. It is the most modern ship of the Spanish Navy. The Álvaro de Bazán class (F100 class of frigates) are a class of Aegis combat system-equipped air defence frigates entering service with the Spanish Navy. They are being built in the Spanish factory of Navantia in Ferrol and are named after Admiral Álvaro de Bazán. In February of 2018, it was announced that a design based the class was selected as one of five finalists for the U.S. Navy’s FFG(X) program.
The ship is fitted with American Aegis weapons technology allowing them to track hundreds of airborne targets simultaneously as part of its air defence network. The F100 Álvaro de Bazán-class multi-role frigate is one of the few non-US warships to carry the Aegis Combat System and its associated AN/SPY-1 radar. Japan’s Kongō class, South Korea’s Sejong the Great class, the F100-derived Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen class of frigates also use the Aegis system. Lockheed Martin, Navantia and the U.S. Navy are conducting final systems integration. Six ships were originally planned, including Roger de Lauria (F105) and Juan de Austria (F106). These were cancelled but a fifth ship was later added as the F105 Cristóbal Colón.
The design of the Cristóbal Colón contemplates several improvements with respect to the original design of the class. It incorporates new Bravo 16V engines that increase its maximum speed and a bow thruster of 850 kW for operations in port. In weaponry and combat systems, two 25mm Mk 38 guns are added for close defense, a new electronic and submarine warfare control system, Aries surface surveillance radar, SPY-1 radar improvements, and improvements in communications and control systems. F105 can also operate with NH 90 helicopters by expanding the hangar and flight deck.