More than 40 midshipmen from the Spanish Navy visited Sailors at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., May 12, to learn about the U.S. submarine force.
The group drove three hours north from New York City two days after their training ship – a four-masted topsail, steel-hulled schooner called BE Juan Sebastian de Elcano – docked for a goodwill visit.
The U.S. Navy coordinator Aluin Morales, protocol officer for Submarine Group 2, said the exchange was worthwhile because it “fosters and continues to grow the relationship with our NATO ally.”
Spain’s naval officers-in-training started visiting Groton annually in 2011.
This year’s visit included a submarine force orientation briefing and tour of submarine training facilities.
“I didn’t know you all change crews on some of your submarines,” said Midshipman 1st Class Ignacio Grueiro when asked what he learned.
Grueiro referred to a dual-crew concept that maximizes the time ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines spend operating overseas. The concept was a common topic of interest for the visiting midshipmen.
As a former enlisted Sailor who served in the Spanish Navy for 19 years, Grueiro said he was familiar with many aspects of the U.S. Navy, but the dual-crew concept for Ohio-class submarines was new to him.
“I don’t believe we could do that in our Navy,” he said. “We can’t maintain our ships at sea for as long as you do, or change an entire crew while forward deployed like some of your subs.”
Grueiro said he’ll likely serve on a Spanish frigate after graduating from Spain’s naval officer academy, the “Escuela Naval Militar de Oficiales.”
The midshipmen have been learning seamanship aboard Elcano, an 87-year-old vessel whose primary mission is to train Spain’s future naval officers.
The ship’s crew includes 23 officers, 22 petty officers, 139 seamen and five civilian instructors.
Elcano is scheduled to depart New York May 15, to sail back across the Atlantic. She will make stops in Ireland, Germany, and Norway before returning home to Spain.
The ship is named for a Basque explorer who became the first sea captain to circumnavigate the world in 1522.
Press Release, May 13, 2014; Image: US Navy