7/20/18 — Throughout its year-long, global sailing voyage, the magnificent Spanish Navy Training Vessel, ELCANO, made strategic Ports of Call with one single stop in the United States – Charleston, South Carolina. The vessel is named after Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan’s last exploratory fleet and the man who completed the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522.
During the crew’s time in the Lowcountry, Spanish Embassy and Military leaders thought it imperative for the young men and women to spend a day at Santa Elena to learn about our Spanish – American connections from the 16th Century.
Both the Santa Elena History Center and the Santa Elena historic landmark site on Parris Island gave the sailors an understanding of what their 16th century predecessors endured and accomplished as they explored and settled the New World, notably Santa Elena (1566-1587).
Informative sessions and tours led by Dr. Larry Rowland and Dr. Chester DePratter shared insight into the navigational challenges, settlement efforts, and conflict/hardships faced by the soldiers and settlers who put their lives on the line to claim the New World for Spain. Today’s Beaufort, SC and Port Royal Sound were Santa Elena, and North American land north of present-day Mexico was Spain’s La Florida. The cadets learned that Santa Elena served as the capital of La Florida, and Spanish Naval Captain Pedro Menendez built his home here with his family in 1571.
The cadets stood on the ground where their ancestors once stood, and observed the natural harbor that made it possible for ship fleets to sail in from the Atlantic Ocean. Without a doubt, the same harbor today, Port Royal Sound, could accommodate the present-day training vessel, ELCANO. The four-masted vessel is 371 feet long, making it the third-largest tall ship in the world. First launching in 1927, it has sailed the furthest, covering more than 2,000,000 nautical miles in its history.
The Santa Elena Foundation is proud to help host the Spanish Military Attache, Captain and Officers of ELCANO, and her crew. Both Mayor Billy Keyserling and Mayor Sam Murray granted keys from the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal for the sailors to display aboard ELCANO, which is now en route back to Spain.