The Colombian Navy gathered naval institutions from nine partner nations of the Americas and Europe in Colombia’s Caribbean waters. The Sail Cartagena 2018 maritime event strengthened bonds of cooperation and friendship among different naval forces, July 21st-26th.
The nautical event, held in Cartagena, Colombia, every four years since 2006, was well attended. “We had a naval week with seven training ships, two naval vessels from partner nations, and more than 2,000 sailors present,” said Colombian Navy Rear Admiral Francisco Cubides Granados, commandant of Colombia’s Admiral Padilla Naval Academy and executive secretary of Sail Cartagena 2018. “It was the perfect scenario to promote hemispheric wellbeing in the maritime field.”
Sail Cartagena seeks to promote greater and better regional and hemispheric integration between the world’s navies and make Cartagena de Indias a travel and nautical destination in the Caribbean and the Americas. Argentina’s ARA Libertad, Brazil’s NVe Cisne Branco, Chile’s Esmeralda, Honduras’s FNH Lempira, Mexico’s ARM Cuauhtémoc, Peru’s BAP Unión, Portugal’s NRP Sagres, and the USCGC Hamilton, as well as the host, Colombia’s ARC Gloria, anchored at the docks of la Bodeguita, Edurbe, and Sociedad Portuaria. Crew members shared experiences and enjoyed the attractions of the historic walled city, a world heritage site.
At the event, 75,000 international and local tourists discovered the culture of each country through their vessels. “Each boat is a floating embassy full of history, culture, and traditions, with a goodwill message from the friendly side of the navy,” Colombian Navy Rear Admiral Juan Ricardo Rozo, commandant of the Noncommissioned Officers Naval Academy, told Diálogo. “It’s not just about maritime military operations to counter criminal groups’ activities, but also to bring a goodwill message.”
Tokens of friendship
The inauguration ceremony included a welcome nautical parade with hundreds of sailboats and yachts gathered by the channel to access the docks. “The town’s whole nautical community showed up to welcome [the training ships],” Rear Adm. Cubides told Diálogo. “It was the perfect moment to show Cartagena’s nautical history to visitors.”
The Peruvian ship BAP Unión was received with a 21-gun salute to honor its first entry into Colombia. The event included a military parade on the bay, the exhibition of naval vessels, and the participation of more than 250 sailors of partner nations. “Each crew displayed their flags, emblems, and banners with pride,” Rear Adm. Cubides said.
Among the naval activities, crews carried out a knot-tying contest. The Peruvian crew, demonstrating skills and precision, won first place, followed by Colombia’s ARC Gloria and Portugual’s NPR Sagres. More than 5,000 attendees took part in culinary fairs, cultural celebrations, and a farewell concert.
The event also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Colombian Navy training ship ARC Gloria. According to the Colombian Navy, the ship has flown its flag in 77 countries and trained more than 4,000 students in seafaring practices.
The best collaboration
“Although some adjustments need to be made, the peace process has brought wellbeing for the whole Colombian population,” Rear Adm. Cubides said. “The country’s economy is growing; people already feel the peace in their everyday lives.”
Sail Cartagena has grown from previous versions. For Rear Adm. Rozo, the meeting of commanders and the nautical events “are an example of how these activities strengthen capabilities [and] relations among the different navies, because we all join efforts and capabilities.”
“It was special to see children happy, asking questions as they toured vessels. These children might have the opportunity to be members of an institution like the Colombian Navy in the future. All these activities strengthen bonds of cooperation and brings us closer to the population,” Rear Adm. Rozo concluded.