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Photo: Migue Fernández | Video: J. Hinojosa
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The jewel of Peru’s Navy sails into Malaga and wows the waiting crowds

Thousands of people are expected to visit the training ship, Unión, which will welcome visitors on board in the city until Wednesday

Jesús Hinojosa

Malaga

Monday, 22 January 2024, 11:27

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The Peruvian naval training ship, Unión, sailed into Malaga port yesterday morning (Sunday, 21 January) and docked at the city's Pier 2 to a warm welcome of crowds who were eager to visit its decks. The impressive four-masted sailing vessel was open to the public for free yesterday and will remain so until Wednesday.

Captain José Arce, in command of the four-masted ship that was launched in 2016, said: “This ship is a source of pride for the Peruvians, it is an example of the capacity of a navy that can sail around the world non-stop."

The Unión left Peru on 17 June last year and will not return until 22 April, after having sailed for 312 days, visiting 21 ports, 15 countries on the five continents, and covering 34,000 nautical miles. "We are at mile 27,000, so we still have some more miles to go," a smiling Captain Arce told SUR.

On Sunday the good weather contributed to a massive influx of people who were entertained by Peruvian singer Mariella Kohn which delighted the crowds, some of them dressed in typical Peruvian costumes. "This is an event for the entire Peruvian community," said an emotional Alfonso Galán, Peru's consul in Malaga for the last 20 years.

"It is the most important training ship in Latin America and the second most important in the world after a Russian vessel," said Galán, who put the number of Peruvian residents in Malaga at around five thousand. Many of them did not want to miss the chance to visit the ship and talk to some of the 87 cadets currently undergoing training on this voyage.

"Do you have a hard time with the storms?" one of the Peruvian visitors asked one of the cadets. "Of course, everything moves around, things get knocked over in the cabins and we have to be on alert," the cadet replied.

A precedent for the current voyage took place in the 19th century, when another Peruvian navy ship sailed around the world between 1856 and 1858. That period is very present in the minds of those taking part in this trip, as it has been made to coincide with the bicentenary of Peru's independence in 1824.

The Unión can be visited in Malaga port today (Monday 22 January) from 10.30am until 3.30pm; and on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am until 6pm.

Typical Peruvian foods products and cultural elements can be found in a room of the ship called Casa Peru, which can be visited during a tour of the ship, which is impressive due to its large dimensions.

After it departs Malaga, the next opportunity to see it in the south of Spain will be from 31 January to 4 February in Cadiz, where the Unión will be awarded the Boston Teapot Trophy, an annual international prize awarded to the sailing training ship that covers the greatest possible distance anywhere in the world in a period of 124 hours.

However, the greatest value of this ship lies not in its speed, but in its role as a disseminator of Peruvian culture. "It is a travelling embassy," said Walter Gutiérrez, Peru's ambassador to Spain. “Here there has been a testimony to the strength of the union between the two countries."

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