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Spanish Navy decommissions last Castor-class survey ship Antares

Antares , the Spanish Navy's remaining Castor-class survey ship, was decommissioned on 16 February. (Spanish Navy)

The Spanish Navy has retired its remaining operational Castor-class survey ship Antares (A 23) after 50 years of service. A formal decommissioning ceremony was held at Puntales Naval Station in San Fernando, Cádiz, on 16 February, the Spanish Navy announced the same day.

Built by Bazán (now Navantia) and commissioned into service in 1974, Antares is the third of an original class of four 363 tonne 38 m Castor-class survey ships that entered service in the 1960s–70s.

Antares was used for a wide range of tasks and missions, including hydrographic and oceanographic surveys and underwater seabed exploration, and the updating of nautical charts, lighthouse books, coastal photography, and meteorological data.

The Castor class will be replaced by two new coastal hydrographic vessels (Buques Hidrográficos Costeros: BHCs) as the first step in the Spanish Navy's efforts to renew its ageing hydrographic flotilla.

The new BHCs, which are planned to enter service from 2026, will be built by state-owned shipbuilder Navantia under a design and construction contract worth EUR158.6 million (USD171.5 million) that was approved by the Spanish government in August 2023.

The ships will have an overall length of 47 m, a displacement of around 900 tonnes, a range of 3,000 miles, and an endurance of 15 days in shallow waters.

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