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Spanish Navy frigate stops in Manila as it traces Magellan’s voyage

/ 03:03 PM September 05, 2019
Spanish Navy frigate stops in Manila as it traces Magellan’s voyage

The Alvaro de Bazan-class guided-missile frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F-104). FRANCES MANGOSING/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — One of the Spanish Navy’s most advanced warships dropped anchor in Manila on Thursday for the first time after more than 90 years. 

The Alvaro de Bazan-class guided-missile frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F-104) has been tracing the Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation of the world 500 years ago as part of its current deployment, said Cmdr. Antonio Gonzalez del Tanago de la Lastra, commanding officer of the warship.

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“We are conducting an 8-month deployment. Manila is one of the many important port visits, but it’s not the only one. This unique deployment is based on the commemoration of the first trip around the world. That’s my main mission,” told reporters.

The three-year expedition that started in August 1519 is described as a turning point in history for proving that the planet could be circled by sea. 

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Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan has a strait named after him for discovering the links of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In 2021, the Philippines will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the country’s first interaction with Spaniards and the achievement of mankind to circumnavigate the world. 

Magellan was killed by forces of local leader Lapu-Lapu at the Battle of Mactan in 1521, in a bid to repel Spanish forces. Juan Sebastián Elcano completed the expedition after Magellan’s death. The Philippines, meanwhile, would be placed under Spanish control for over 300 years later on. 

Part of the ship’s visit to the Philippines is to sail toward Baler Bay for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary since the historic voyage and to remember their fallen soldiers. 

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“We will honor the Spanish and Filipino soldiers in Battle of Baler. Later on, one small team will disembark to go to the church and honor the soldiers who died in that fight,” he said.

The Siege of Baler marked the last stand of Spanish forces in the Philippines.

Philippines-Spain defense ties

Cmdr. Kenneth Lozañes, the Philippine Navy’s representative to welcome the Spanish Navy, said the visit underscores the continuing efforts of both countries to boost the relationship between their governments and navies. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in June that the memorandum of understanding on logistics, defense materiel, armaments and defense industry cooperation between the Philippines and Spain is expected to be finalized this September. 

Spain has been a source of equipment for the military’s capability upgrade. It acquired three medium lift aircraft for the Philippine Air Force from Spanish aircraft manufacturer EADS CASA (now Airbus) in 2015.

Another command and control fixed-wing aircraft is expected from Spain this September or October. 

Navy chief Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, meanwhile, is set to visit Spain next month. 

Freedom of navigation in South China Sea

While he doesn’t see more frequent deployments of the Spanish Navy around the Pacific, De la Lastra said they support freedom of navigation, including in the South China Sea. 

“Spain is fully committed to freedom of navigation and freedom of seas. This is the first time in many, many years that Spanish Navy is coming to this area… But we understand and we share with EU (European Union) all the concerns on the situation there,” he said. /je

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TAGS: frigate, Magellan, navy, Spain, Spanish navy, Warship
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