HAVANA – The Spanish navy training ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano, named after the first man to circumnavigate the Earth, arrived in Havana on Wednesday morning for its 10th visit to Cuba as part of its 87th training cruise.
The four-mast ship fired a 21-gun salvo to signal its friendly arrival in port and was saluted by a Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces artillery battery at the San Carlos de La Cabaña colonial fortress.
During the ship’s five-day stay in Cuba, officers and sailors will meet with Vice Adm. Pedro Perez Betancourt, commander of the Cuban navy, and Marta Hernandez, president of the Havana Provincial Assembly of the People’s Power.
The officers and crew will tour cultural and historic sites in the capital.
Cubans will be able to visit the ship from Thursday until Sunday, when the training vessel will hoist anchor and set sail for the United States.
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano left Cadiz on March 5 on a four-month training cruise that has already taken it to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Fortaleza, Brazil, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
From Havana, the ship will sail to Miami and Baltimore before returning to Marin, Spain.
The vessel, under the command of Capt. Victoriano Gilaber Agote, has a crew of 23 officers, 23 petty officers, 140 sailors and four civilian instructors.
The ship has been sailing the world’s oceans since 1928 to train the Spanish navy’s future officers.
Most of the Spanish navy’s officers have trained on the schooner, including King Felipe, who sailed on the Elcano in 1987.
The ship was named for Juan Sebastian de Elcano, the first man to circumnavigate the Earth from 1519 to 1522 with Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in search of a western route to the Spice Islands.
Of Magellan’s original five-ship fleet carrying 237 men, only 18 sailors on the Nao Victoria, the only surviving vessel, made it back to Seville in September 1522 under Elcano, who assumed command after Magellan’s death in the Philippines.
The ship’s coat of arms is the one granted by the Spanish Crown to Elcano: A gold castle in a field of gold with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and clove, crowned with the motto in Latin, around a globe, “Primus circumdedisti me,” or “The First Who Went Around Me.”
The Juan Sebastian de Elcano’s stay in Cuba coincides with the visit to the island by Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who will arrive in Havana from Ecuador on Friday.
The foreign minister is scheduled to participate in a number of activities with the training ship.