Stately Portuguese visitor sails calmly into Jakarta

The Portuguese Navy’s training ship Sagres - JG Photo/Ismira Lutfia

By Ismira Lutfia - Jakarta Globe

The Portuguese training ship Sagres sailed into Jakarta with great fanfare from the Indonesian Navy on Saturday to begin its its five-day stopover here.

Arriving at the Tanjung Priok port after a week-long voyage from Dili, East Timor, Sagres will be open to the public until Thursday before it continues on its journey to Bangkok as part of its 11-month circumnavigation as “a floating embassy of Portugal,” said the ship’s captain, Comr. Luis Proenca Mendes.

“We will continue sailing to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Egypt before reaching Lisbon by December,” said Second Lt. Flavio Eusobio, an officer on the ship.

This is the ship’s first journey to East Timor and Indonesia, Mendes said. The detour from its normal route from China to Singapore added six weeks to the ship’s itinerary.

“The ship’s main purpose is to train cadets from the Portuguese naval academy, who undergo three months’ training on board the ship at the end of their second year,” the captain said as he took journalists on a tour around the vessel, whose 23 white sails bear red crosses.

Sagres left its home port of Lisbon in January.

The last batch of cadets who trained on the Sagres joined the ship in California, bound for Shanghai, where the ship docked to participate at the Shanghai World Expo.

The 12 cadets worked daily on the ship’s bridge to familiarize them with the working life on board a ship. They also learn navigation, maneuvering and leadership skills as well as how to deal with unpredictable weather.

And for the younger generation, used to being constantly connected with the rest of the world through their gadgets, Mendes said the cadets’ time on the bridge gives them the unique experience of being offline and away from the phone.

“From time to time we also invite foreign cadets to join our training on Sagres,” said Mendes, who was made captain of Sagres in 2007.


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