The Spanish Navy training ship ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ has concluded her participation in the festivities to commemorate the 500 anniversary of the discovery of the e Strait of Magellan.

Friday, October 23, 2020

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Aerial view of the training ships ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ and ‘Esmeralda’ during the celebrations.
Aerial view of the training ships ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ and ‘Esmeralda’ during the celebrations.
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Aerial view of the training ships ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ and ‘Esmeralda’ during the celebrations.
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The ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ moored with her sister ship ‘Esmeralda’.
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Gun salute from the ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’

The ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ sails now towards Valparaiso

The training ship ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’ set sail for Valparaiso after having participated during this past week in the celebrations of the 5th Centenary of the discovery of the Strait of Magellan.

The Spanish Navy's training ship, accompanied by the Chilean Navy's sister ship ‘Esmeralda’, replicated the feat that exactly 500 years ago the Magellan-Elcano expedition carried out by sailing through the Patagonian channels and the Strait of Magellan, so named after the great Portuguese sailor.

As part of the different commemorative events, the ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ visited Punta Arenas. The ship paid tribute to the city during her arrival with the protocol 21-gun salute, which, following a naval tradition, was responded with another 21 salvos from land. In her 90 years of history, the ship has stopped 13 times in this city, the first one being in 1930.

On October 20th the sister training ships ‘Esmeralda’ and ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ were anchored off Fortescue Bay to participate in a religious service in memory of the first mass celebrated 500 years ago in what is now Chilean territory, as well as a tribute to the Magellan-Elcano expedition in front of the ‘Cruz del Puerto de Las Sardinas’.

On the 21st both ships participated in the central act of the commemoration, which was presided over by the Chilean President, Sebastián Piñera, and held in compliance with the strict sanitary protocols established to mitigate the effects of the COVID pandemic.

Admiral Teodoro López Calderón, Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy (AJEMA), traveled to Punta Arenas to participate in the commemorative acts. During his stay, the AJEMA took the opportunity to personally thank the crew of the ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’ for the effort they are making, after 58 days on board without disembarking, due to the current sanitary measures.

The Magellan-Elcano expedition and the discovery of the Strait of Magellan

The discovery of the Strait of Magellan was a historic event that opened the Pacific to navigation from the Atlantic Ocean, thus culminating a search long pursued by the Crown of Castile. 500 years ago, on October 20th 1520, five Spanish ships entered the tangle of cold channels of the southernmost tip of South America, and 38 days later, unknown waters appeared before them: those of the Pacific Ocean.

The fleet was commanded by the Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan. In one of the ships, the ‘Concepción’, a Basque sailor born in the town of Guetaria was travelling as executive officer: his name Juan Sebastián Elcano. It was he who, after Magellan's death in battle with an indigenous tribe in the Philippines, led that expedition back to Spain, having circumnavigated the globe for the first time in history.

It was in 1522, three years after starting the journey, that the Basque sailor completed the feat by reaching the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the south of Spain with the only surviving ship of the expedition.

Training ship ‘Juan Sebastián de Elcano’.

The training ship ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’ left Cadiz on September 24th for her 93rd Training Cruise, in which she is scheduled to sail around the world as one of the main milestones organized to commemorate the 5th Centenary of the first Circumnavigation of the Earth, undoubtedly the greatest feat in the history of navigation.

Once the Strait of Magellan is crossed, the ‘Juan Sebastian de Elcano’ will sail along the Pacific coast of the American continent, calling at the ports of Valparaiso, El Callao, Guayaquil and Acapulco. In addition, the ship will have the opportunity visit other relevant places of the original expedition such as Guam, the Philippines or Indonesia.


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