Spanish navy training ship sails for Americas

Las Palmas, Spain, Mar 10 (EFE).- The Spanish navy training ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano, named after the first man to circumnavigate the earth, sailed from the Canary Islands on Sunday for Puerto Rico on a new training cruise and will take part in different events in the Americas, the navy said.

The ship, which is on its 84th training cruise, will cross the Atlantic twice, visiting the ports of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Colon, Panama; Miami, Florida; Newport, Rhode Island; Den Helder, Netherlands; Santander, Spain; Bayonne, France; and Marin, a port city in the northwestern Spanish province of Pontevedra.

The vessel will sail a total of about 11,500 nautical miles on its 100-day voyage, the navy said.

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano will join other training vessels from across Latin America in the "Tall Ship" armada that will sail from Puerto Rico to follow the route taken by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

The ship will also take part in the ceremonies marking the quincentennial of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean in Colon, Panama, and the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida in Miami.

The vessel, under the command of Capt. Alfonso Gomez Fernandez de Cordoba, has a crew of 23 officers, 22 non-commissioned officers, 140 crewmen and five civilian officials.

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 Juan Carlos, who shipped out as crown prince in 1958, and his son, Crown Prince 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."