Spanish Navy Marines

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Spanish Navy Marines
Infantería de Marina
Emblem of the Spanish Navy Marines.svg
Badge of the Spanish Navy Marine
Active February 27, 1537 – present
(480 years, 4 months)
Country  Spain
Branch Emblem of the Spanish Navy.svg Spanish Navy
Type Marines
Role Amphibious Warfare
Size 4,680 Marines
Garrison/HQ San Fernando
Motto(s) "Per Terra et Mare"
("By Land and Sea!")
March Marcha heroica de la Infantería de Marina
Anniversaries February 27th
Engagements Battle of Lepanto
War of Jenkins' Ear
Siege of Pensacola
Spanish–American War
Rif War
Spanish Civil War
Major General Pablo Miguel Bermudo y de Espinosa

The Spanish Navy Marines (Spanish: Infantería de Marina; lit, Naval infantry) is a corps within the Spanish Navy (Armada Española) responsible for conducting amphibious warfare by utilizing naval platforms and resources. The Marine Corps is fully integrated into the Armada's structure.

The Corps was formed in 1537 by Charles I of Spain (also known as Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor), making it the oldest marine corps in existence in the world, drawing from the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles.


Spanish Navy Marines Uniform

The Spanish Navy Marines is an elite corps, highly specialised in amphibious warfare, that is, to project an amphibious force onto a hostile, or potentially hostile, coast. Its ability to embark on a short term notice with (land, air and naval) Navy assets, makes it a unit with a high strategic value. Adding to this a high degree of training, and the capability to deploy swiftly in international waters, results in a potent dissuasive force available at a short notice in distant regions.

One of the main characteristics of a marine is the uniform that he wears. On the sleeves of the Spanish Marines are the three "Sardinetas", which marks it as a member of the Royal House Corps. This was given in recognition for a heroic last stand in the Castillo del Morro of Havana, Cuba against a British expedition in 1762. The only other unit to wear the sardinetas and red trouser stripes is the Spanish Royal Guard. Spanish Marines have modern assets to comply with its mission, having personnel specialised in artillery, sapping, helicopters, special operations, communications, tanks, among others. Some vehicles form the Grupo Mecanizado Anfibio del Tercio de Armada (the Mechanized Amphibious Group of the Navy Tercio).

The Marines of Spain are not only a fleet force, as the Spanish Royal Marine Guard Company are responsible for the defense and security forces of naval bases and facilities, naval schools and training units, and all facilities that support the Marines themselves.

The most famous Spanish Marine is without a doubt Miguel de Cervantes, author of the novel Don Quixote, who was wounded in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Another famous writer, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, also served with the marines.


First period[edit]

Spanish Navy marines fighting in the Battle of Lepanto, 1571

The Infantería de Armada (Navy Infantry) was created by Charles V in 1537, when he permanently assigned the Compañías Viejas del Mar de Nápoles (Naples Sea Old Companies) to the Escuadras de Galeras del Mediterráneo (Mediterranean Galley Squadrons). But it was Philip II who established today's concept of a landing force. This was a pure naval power projection ashore by forces deployed from ships that could maintain their ability to fight despite being based on board. This is the period of the famous Tercios (literally "One Third", due to its organisation: one third of musketeers, one third of spearmen and the final third of pikemen):

  • Tercio Nuevo de la Mar de Nápoles.
  • Tercio de la Armada del Mar Océano.
  • Tercio de Galeras de Sicilia.
  • Tercio Viejo del Mar Océano y de Infantería Napolitana.

Of the Tercios above, the first is considered the core of the Spanish Navy Marines, and it bears in its coat of arms two crossed anchors that became the Corps' coat of arms until 1931.

In 1704, the Tercios became regiments: Regimientos de Bajeles (Vessel's Regiments), Regimiento de la Armada (Navy Regiment), R. del Mar de Nápoles (Naples' Sea Regiment), and R. de Marina de Sicilia (Sicily's Navy Regiment), detaching some small units to the Army, and the main body remained in the Navy becoming the Cuerpo de Batallones de Marina (Navy Battalions Corps).

The battles that the marines served in during this very busy period included:

Second period[edit]

In 1717 the Cuerpo de Batallones de Marina was definitively settled and organized, reaching its full strength of twelve battalions. The first ones were named: Armada, Bajeles, Marina, Oceano, Mediterráneo and Barlovento. Their mission was to form the "Main body of landing columns and ship's soldiers tasks" in a time that boarding was still a critical part of battle at sea. They were also gun crews.

In a 1793, a woman, Ana Maria de Soto, disguised as a man, and answering to the name of Antonio Maria de Soto, enlisted in the 6th company of 11° Battalion of the Navy, being licensed with pension and honors in 1798, when she was discovered to be a woman. She was the first female Marine of the world.

The major actions they took part in during this period were:

Third period[edit]

Though Spain's empire was dismembered in the nineteenth century the marines continued to be active abroad.

Its most important actions in this period were:

Insignia in the Republican period (1931–1939)
Insignia in the Francoist period (1939–1975)

These actions were carried out by the Batallones Expedicionarios (Expeditionary Battalions), some of them campaigning abroad for up to ten years.

Fourth period[edit]

At the end of the World War I, the Battle of Gallipoli made almost all countries abandon the idea of amphibious assault. The world's marine corps fell into a deep crisis, with the Spanish Navy Marines being no exception, though it enjoyed success during the Third Rif War in its innovative Alhucemas amphibious assault in 1925, when it employed coordinated air and naval gunfire to support the assault.

Owing to its high-profile action in the unpopular Rif Wars, the Spanish Navy Marine corps was branded as a leftover of the Spanish colonial era. After the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the reforms of the armed forces introduced by newly nominated Republican Minister of War Manuel Azaña within the first months of the new government sought to disband the corps.

Before it was officially disbanded, however, the Spanish Civil War intervened and the corps split and served both sides with the garrisons of Ferrol and Cádiz on the Nationalist side and the garrison of Cartagena, as well as a detachment in Madrid, on the Republican side. During the bitterly fought war the Marines performed garrison duties, led landing parties, and provided expert artillery and machine gun crews. The Republican 151 Brigada Mixta fought mostly inland battles far away from the sea. Photographer Robert Capa took pictures of the Spanish Republican Navy Marines in the Battle of the Segre.[1] Republican Infantería de Marina Lieutenant Colonel Ambrosio Ristori de la Cuadra, killed in action during the Siege of Madrid, was posthumously awarded the Laureate Plate of Madrid.[2]

Fifth period[edit]

After the civil war, during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the strength of the Infantería Marina was increased. In 1957, the Grupo Especial Anfibio (Amphibious Special Group) was created, and the Spanish Navy Marines returned to its primary duty as a Landing Force Mission. In 1958 it established a beachhead in Spanish Sahara and Ifni during the Ifni War. The capabilities and strength of the Spanish Navy Marines were increased: new amphibious vehicles, anti-tank weapons, individual equipment and artillery.

The Tercio de Armada (TEAR) became the main amphibious unit and has experienced several restructures that led to the E-01 Plan, which defines the requirements and structures from the year 2000 for the Spanish Navy Marines. The Spanish Marines have been present in Europe, Central America and Asia in an anonymous role as an "emergency force" ready to evacuate civilians in conflict areas, or as a deterrence force in providing cover for the actions of allied forces. The current base for the Spanish Marines is in San Fernando.

Marine Infantry Brigade Structure[edit]

The main fighting Force of the Spanish Marine Infantry is the Marine Infantry Brigade, which includes the following units:

  • Marine Infantry Brigade (BRIMAR)
    • Headquarter Battalion, with 1x Headquarter, 1x Signals, 1x Military Intelligence, Battlefield Surveillance & Electronic Warfare and 1x Reconnaissance & Target Acquisition Company
    • 1st Landing Battalion, with 1x HQ & Service, 3x Naval Fusiliers and 1x Weapons Company
    • 2nd Landing Battalion, with 1x HQ & Service, 3x Naval Fusiliers and 1x Weapons Company
    • 3rd Mechanized Landing Battalion, with 1x HQ & Service, 2x Mechanized (Piranha IIIC 8x8), 1x Tank (M60 Patton) and 1x Weapons Company
    • Amphibious Mobility Group, with 1x HQ & Service, 1x Engineer, 1x Amphibious Assault Vehicle, 1x Anti-Tank (TOW) and 1x Boat Company
    • Artillery Landing Group, with 1x HQ & Service, 2x Field Artillery (105mm Mod. 56), 1x Self-propelled Artillery (155mm M109A2), 1x Air-Defense Artillery Battery (Mistral) and 1x Fire Support Coordination and Control Company
    • Combat Service Support Group, with 1x HQ & Service, 1x Transport, 1x Medical, 1x Supply, 1x Maintenance Company and 1x Beach Organization & Movement Company
Structure of the Marine Infantry Brigade 2017

Other Infantry units of the Spanish Navy are:

  • Protection Forces (FUPRO)
    • Tercio North (Northern Battalion)
    • Tercio of Levante (Eastern Battalion)
    • Tercio of the South (South Battalion)
    • Canarias Security Unit
    • Headquarters Security Group, Madrid

Ranks of the Navy Marines[edit]

Even through the ranks of the Navy Marines are similar to Spanish Army ranks they wear also sleeve and cuff insignia to recognize them as part of the naval establishment, aside from shoulder rank insignia.

Officer rank insignia[edit]

NATO Code OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
Bandera de España
1in.png 2in.png 3in.png 4in.png 5in.png 6in.png 7in.png 8in.png
General de División General de Brigada Coronel Teniente Coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez

Non-commissioned officers rank insignia[edit]

Código OTAN OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR2 OR1
Bandera de España
13in.png 14in.png 15in.png 16in.png 17in.png Insignia de Cabo Mayor Insignia de Cabo Primero Insignia de Cabo Insignia de Soldado de primera Insignia de Soldado
Suboficial Mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento Primero Sargento Cabo Mayor Cabo Primero Cabo Soldado de Primera Soldado


NATO Code OF-D Officers student Sub-officers student Recruit
Bandera de España
8in.png 9in.png 10in.png 11in.png 12in.png 17ain.png Inmarinalu1.png Inmarinalu2.png 17nn.png

(Alumno 5º)

Guardiamarina de 2º

(Alumno 4º)

Guardiamarina de 1º

(Alumno 3º)

Aspirante de 2º

(Alumno 2º)

Aspirante de 1º

(Alumno 1º)

Sargento Alumno

3º año


2º año


1º año

Aspirante MPTM

Battledress officers rank insignia[edit]

NATO Code OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
Bandera de España
General de División
General de Brigada
Teniente Coronel
General de División General de Brigada Coronel Teniente Coronel Comandante Capitán Teniente Alférez

Battledress non-commissioned officers rank insignia[edit]

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Bandera de España
Suboficial Mayor Subteniente Brigada Sargento Primero Sargento Cabo Mayor Cabo Primero Cabo Soldado de Primera Soldado

Other ranks[edit]

Officer ranks[edit]

The Spanish Marine's Decalogue[edit]

Original Spanish[edit]

  • 1º mandamiento : Mi primer deber como infante de marina es estar permanentemente dispuesto a defender España y entregar si fuera preciso mi propia vida
  • 2º mandamiento : Seré siempre respetuoso con mis mandos, leal con mis compañeros, generoso y sacrificado en mi trabajo
  • 3º mandamiento : Estaré preparado para afrontar con valor abnegación y espíritu de servicio cualquier misión asiganada a la Infantería de Marina
  • 4º mandamiento : Seré siempre respetuoso con las tradiciones del cuerpo, estaré orgulloso de su historia y nunca haré nada que pueda desprestigiar su nombre
  • 5º mandamiento : Ajustaré mi conducta al respeto de las personas, su dignidad y derechos serán valores que guardaré y exigiré
  • 6º mandamiento : Como Infante de marina la disciplina constituirá mi norma de actuación, la practicaré y exigiré en todos los cometidos que se me asignen
  • 7º mandamiento : Como Infante de marina mi misión será sagrada en su cumplimiento venceré o moriré
  • 8º mandamiento : Aumentar la preparación física y mental será mi objetivo permanente
  • 9º mandamiento : Seré duro en la fatiga, bravo en el combate, nunca el desaliento en mi pecho anidará, nobleza y valentía serán mis emblemas
  • 10º mandamiento : ¡Mi lema! … ¡Valiente por tierra y por mar!


  • 1: As a Marine my first duty is to be constantly ready to defend Spain and give my life if necessary.
  • 2: I shall be always loyal with my brothers, respectful with my superiors, generous and devoted to my task.
  • 3: I shall be always ready to face with courage, dedication and spirit of service any mission assigned to the Spanish Marine Corps.
  • 4: I shall be always respectful about the traditions of the Corps, be proud of its history and will never do anything that may adversely reflect on its name.
  • 5: I shall guide my conduct with respect for people, their dignity and rights I shall guard.
  • 6: As a Marine, discipline will be my standard of acting in all tasks assigned to me.
  • 7: As a Marine, my mission is sacred in its fulfillment, I shall either win or die.
  • 8: Improving my body and training my mind shall be my permanent goals.
  • 9: I shall be strong on fatigue, brave in battle, discouragement shall never nest in my heart, for honor and courage are my banners.
  • 10: My motto!: Bravery in land and in the sea!


Spanish marines assigned to the frigate SPS Numancia (F83).
Spanish Navy Marines deploying from an AAV-7 during an exhibition on Sardinero beach in Santander, in celebration of Armed Forces Day (Dia de las Fuerzas Armadas) in 2009.
An M109 howitzer of the Spanish Marines coming ashore during Exercise BRIGHT STAR 01/02, in 2001.

Infantry weapons[edit]


Assault rifles[edit]

Grenade launchers[edit]

Sniper rifles[edit]

Submachine guns[edit]

Machine guns[edit]

Anti-tank weapons[edit]


Guided missiles[edit]



See also[edit]



External links[edit]