SINGAPORE: While the waters around Singapore see all sorts of ships coming and going, it is rare to see a sailing vessel like the Mexican Navy's Cuauhtémoc, which arrived at VivoCity’s port on Wednesday morning (Jul 19).
Booming Mexican music greeted the ship as it made its way to its docking point, with nearly 100 navy cadets standing on the yards of its three masts, putting on a spectacular display for those who had come to greet the Cuauhtémoc.
Commanded by Captain Rafael Antonio Lagunes Arteaga, the Armada Republic Mexicana (ARM) Cuauhtémoc – which began its journey from its home port, Acapulco Guerrero on Feb 6 – is on a nine-month long goodwill voyage around the region.
“Singapore is a very important port for us. It is also a big challenge as a sailor to travel in these waters because we come from a faraway country and don’t get a lot of opportunities to relieve such experiences. It has been very instructive for us,” said Capt Lagunes.
The ship, that doubles as a training vessel for the Mexican Navy, is also on a Centenary of the Constitution journey around the world to commemorate the 100 years since the United States of Mexico’s political constitution was put into effect.
While on the sail training trip, cadets from the Heroic Naval Military School are instructed in the art of sailing, where they master practical exercises such as climbing up the ship’s masts and yards. The cadets also learn the calls of the boatswain's whistle - an old-fashioned instrument used for giving orders to the crew and honouring senior officers and distinguished visitors.
Since her commissioning 35 years ago, the steel-hulled barque has been on three other circumnavigation trips, travelling more than 705,012 nautical miles and forging 34 generations of cadets for Mexico’s Heroic Navy Military School. On this trip, the vessel is set to call at 15 other ports in 12 different countries, including the Philippines, China, South Korea, Japan and India.
At each stop, the crew of nine senior officers, 44 officers, 43 cadets, 122 enlisted men and women, as well as invited officers from foreign navies will participate in cultural exchanges with local people.
Although styled as a goodwill voyage with no planned exercises with the Singapore Navy, Capt Lagunes said that the Mexican Navy is keen on strengthening the bonds of friendship between both navies as well as civilian authorities here.
“Between our governments, Mexico is very focused on the Pacific Ocean area and Singapore is one of the iconic members – so it is very important for us to be here,” he added.
The relatively young 234-strong Cuauhtémoc crew, who have an average age of 24, will also be playing host to cadets and crew members from the Singapore Navy for cocktails and meals, and will later visit a naval base and navy vessel here.
The ARM Cuauhtémoc will be open to the public from Jul 20 to 23, between 10am and 6pm at the Vivocity Promenade, before it leaves for Manila on Jul 24.