The Juan Sebastián de Elcano Returns

With warm weather beckoning more and more Pensacolians to the outdoors and of course to the many coastal areas of the city, this month brings a unique opportunity to take advantage of yet more seaside fun. From May 27 through June 1, the Spanish Navy training ship Juan Sebastián de Elcano will visit Pensacola and be docked at Plaza de Luna at the south end of Palafox.

The Elcano was built in 1927 and has plenty of significance to the Spanish navy as one of the oldest tall ships sailing today. It was named after the Spanish explorer who completed Ferdinand Magellan’s first-ever circumnavigation of the earth from 1519 to 1522 after Magellan was killed by natives of Saint Lazarus Island in the Philippines during the expedition. Elcano led the 17 survivors to complete the trip.

Maria Davis, the Honorary Vice Consul of Spain in Pensacola, has organized the tall ship’s visits to Pensacola, the first of which was in 1981. While trip marks the seventh visit to Pensacola by the Elcano , Davis says this one has special significance, as it celebrates the general who triumphed at the Battle of Pensacola in the American Revolution.

“General Bernardo Galvez came to Pensacola in 1781 and he fought The Battle of Pensacola, which played an important role in the fight for independence. Right now we are celebrating the fact that Bernardo de Galvez has become an honorary citizen of the United States,” she says. “Only seven other people, including Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and the Marquis de Lafayette have made this list. This is a great honor to Spain and the Elcano comes to honor Galvez.”

The tall ship will be open for tours by the public during its time in Pensacola, offering something a little different to Downtown visitors. Davis estimates that approximately 10,000 people visited the ship during its last visit in 2009.

At 370 feet long, the Elcano is the third-largest tall ship in the world. It has an iron hull iron and four masts (called Blanca, Almansa, Asturias and Nautilus, after other training ships which preceded it). The Elcano has sailed on 85 training cruises, including ten circumnavigations of the globe. Sometimes referred to as a floating university, the Elcano is also an ambassadorial ship. Spanish naval officers study for five years and their Elcano tour happens during their fourth year. During this year, the officers visit at least a dozen cities and learn firsthand about life at sea aboard the ship.

The Elcano will also be visiting as part of the annual Fiesta activities, adding another way to celebrate the heritage of Pensacola.

The ship will be open for tours on the following dates:
May 29: 11 am- 1 pm; 3-5 pm May 30: 11 am- 1 pm; 3-5 pm May 31: 3-5 pm

For more information visit fiestaoffiveflags.org.

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