Pensacola Stories and Tips

The History of The Juan Sebastian de Elcano

Bell on the Deck of the Juan Sebastian de Elcano Photo, Pensacola, Florida

Primus Circumdedisti Me--Motto of the Spanish Tall Ship the Juan Sebastian de Elcano and the coat of arms of its namesake.

The Juan Sebastian de Elcano is the third largest Tall Ship in the World and was named after Basque/Spanish Navigator Juan Sebastian de Elcano (1486 or 1487-1526) under the command of Ferdinand Magellan during the latter's trip to the Spice Islands in Indonesia from 1519-1522.

Elcano was the oldest of four children born in the Basque country of Spain and became a sailor at a young age. He became a Commander Subject under King Carlos I and joined Magellan's fleet to the Spice Islands in 1519. The trip to the Spice Islands was to be a short trip, but mutiny in Argentina, starvation, and battles with Natives in the Philippines prolonged the trip even further. Magellan was killed by natives in the Philippines at the Battle of Macatan on April 27, 1521, and Elcano took command of the Spanish fleet and headed back to Spain. After another ship was left behind because of damage, Elcano in command of the Victoria returned to Spain via the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. After three years at sea and the deaths of 237 crew members, Elcano and 18 surviving crew members returned to Cadiz, Spain on September 6, 1522.

After completing the first trip around the world by an explorer, Juan Sebastian de Elcano was awarded a coat of arms by Carlos I along with a small pension and still remained as a commander under the Spanish King. In 1525, a second trip to the Spice Islands similar to the first trip was planned with the Loaiza Expedition, and Elcano became a captain of one of the ships along with another ship's captain. Elcano died at sea from starvation during the second expedition on August 4, 1526 along with the other captain, but several sailors took command of the expedition and were able to return to Spain the same route Elcano took the Victoria in 1522.

Today the Tall Ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano bears the explorer's name and is used by the Royal Spanish Navy as a training ship for its sailors and travels around the world on a mission of peace and friendship. The schooner was built in Cadiz in 1927 and has four masts and is 115-meters-long (370 feet) and is constructed of wood and metal.

Been to this destination?

Share Your Story or Tip