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Spanish Ship Returns To Pensacola


A familiar visitor from Pensacola’s original mother country sailed into the Port of Pensacola Wednesday morning. The Spanish tall ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano is part of Pensacola’s 66th annual Fiesta of Five Flags.

The reception at the T.T. Wentworth Florida State Museum welcomed the crew of the ship, a training vessel that’s the third tallest tall ship in the world.  

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward took the podium, after being pressed into service as Master of Ceremonies at the last minute. He spoke of the many ties between the city and Spain, including the heroics of the Governor of Spanish Louisiana. 

“This year, Bernardo de Galvez became an honorary American citizen, and we celebrate ‘Galvez Day’ every May 8. That’s a tradition now,” said Hayward.

Galvez's victory over the British at the Battle of Pensacola in 1781 was recognized by George Washington as a deciding factor in the Revolutionary War.

In January, Congressman Jeff Miller presented a Nina Fritz portrait of Galvez to the museum, which sits near the battle site in downtown Pensacola. He also took to the House floor last year to urge passage of House Joint Resolution 105, granting Galvez honorary American citizenship.

HJR 105 was passed by the House last July and the Senate in December. Galvez joined former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa as honorary U.S. citizens.

Also on hand Wednesday were the Elcano’s commander, Capt. Enrique Torres-Piñeyro, other Spanish military officials, and Ramon Gil-Casare, Spain’s Ambassador to the United States.

“Pensacola’s very important for Spain, because it has a history that unites us” said Casares. “It’s a city that’s proud of its history. It has kept the Spanish tradition and studied its own past, a past that binds us together.”

Local officials and the entourage from the Elcano exchanged a number of gifts, and proclamations were issued by the City of Pensacola. The ship is open for public tours through May 31, and is scheduled to depart the following day.