Posted: 04/06/2024 14:36:11

 

 

On Monday 20th May, keen observers might have noticed a slight novelty aboard Glenlee. Alongside the British Red Ensign flying at the jackstaff, a second flag was hoisted—one that hadn't been seen on the ship in 25 years. The Spanish flag was raised to welcome Rear Admiral Joaquin Ruiz Escagedo and Ignacio Cartagena Núñez, the Spanish Consul General based in Edinburgh, along with accompanying Naval Officers.

To grasp fully the importance of this visit, one must appreciate Glenlee's varied history. After twenty years of international voyages as a British cargo vessel, and a brief period under Italian ownership, the ship was acquired by the Spanish Royal Navy in 1922. For the next 37 years, under the name Galatea, she served as a training ship where over 4,000 officers and men learned essential maritime skills.

Life on board was challenging but offered an unparalleled adventure, especially for young cadets experiencing life at sea for the first time. In 1959, Galatea became a static sail training vessel in the home port of Ferrol until 1979 when the ship finally retired from naval service. In 1993, the ship was purchased by the Clyde Maritime Trust, towed from Cadiz to Glasgow, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Welcoming the Rear Admiral aboard was an opportunity to honour and reinforce connections to Spain and a significant era in Glenlee’s history. Without dedication and care during the Spanish years, the ship would not have survived the post-World War I era when many cargo sailing ships were deemed obsolete and scrapped.

For Rear Admiral Ruiz Escagedo, visiting Glenlee was a profound moment, as the ship remains a legend in Spain and with her navy. He sailed on the Juan Sebastián de Elcano, the current Spanish training ship, completed in 1927, and for many years, both Galatea and Elcano were port-mates in Ferrol.

During his tour of Glenlee, Rear Admiral Ruiz Escagedo pointed out features reminiscent of Elcano, which suggested that Galatea influenced the design of the younger ship. He also shared stories from his training days, vividly bringing to life the experiences of Galatea cadets, especially experiences of climbing the rig with minimal safety equipment!

 

After a morning aboard, including a short interview where he discussed the enduring reputation of Galatea in Spain, the entire group were treated to a Scottish tea-break of coffee and Tunnocks teacakes! Glenlee was presented with a magnificent brass plaque of the Rear Admiral’s current command, the Frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon. In reciprocation, bottles of Glenlee whisky and a selection of Glenlee books were gifted to the visitors.

This visit also marks the final official visit to the ship by Ignacio Cartagena Núñez as his tenure as Consul General comes to an end this summer. We have greatly appreciated this relationship and hope to forge a new friendship with his successor.