Photo: Juan Sebastian Elcano (Spanish Navy)
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo attended a flag ceremony on board the Spanish navy training vessel Juan Sebastian Elcano in Miami on Sunday.
Prior to the ceremony, Mass was celebrated on board the Elcano, which has been moored in Miami waters this week to participate in the events organized for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.
Also attending the shipboard ceremony were Spanish Ambassador to the United States Ramon Gil-Casares Satrustegui and Spain’s consul in Miami, Cristina Barrios.
The flag ceremony itself was presided over by the Elcano’s captain, Alfonso Gomez Fernandez de Cordoba, and attended by about 60 people, as well as by the ship’s crew.
The Elcano was built in shipyards in the southern city of Cadiz in 1927-8 and entered service with the Spanish navy in August 1928, logging since then more than 1.6 million nautical miles through the world’s oceans.
Its main task at present is to help train future Spanish naval officers and it makes a six-month voyage for that purpose each year.
The vessel also serves as a “floating embassy,” supporting Spain’s foreign policy with assorted activities, holding receptions for local authorities at the ports where it puts in and maintaining links with the local Spanish communities there.
On Monday, the Elcano will set sail for Cape Canaveral, and it will later call at Newport, Rhode Island, and then depart for European waters once again to participate in the 525th anniversary ceremony of the creation of the Dutch navy before returning to Spain.
Garcia-Margallo is scheduled to return to Spain on Sunday after spending a week in the United States during which time he has visited Washington - where he met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and participated in a session to honor him at the Organization of American States - and Miami.