A Mexican navy vessel docked in Dubai on Monday morning after 85 days at sea, making its maiden voyage to the Middle East.
The vintage ARM Cuauhtémoc BE-01, which is 90 metres long and 12 metres wide, entered Port Rashid shortly after 10.30am, to cheering crowds.
The cruise is the vessel’s 41st journey and has been named Expo 2020 Dubai in honour of the world’s fair. It began at the ship’s base in Acapulco, Mexico, on August 16. The vessel will stay in Dubai for a week before continuing its journey to South America.
With 249 crew on board, the vessel, which has traditional sails mounted on masts to harness the power of wind, had a fairly smooth journey throughout. The ship was fortunate to experience mostly good weather and thanks to savvy navigation through safe waters there were no encounters with pirates.
“The ARM Cuauhtemoc BE-01 is 39 years old and has travelled all over the world, doing four Earth circumnavigations so far. This trip will end in June next year,” Capt Rene Cano Avila said.
“Even though this is the fourth time the ship has crossed the Suez channel, this is the first time ever that the Cuauhtémoc has entered the Arabian Gulf and docked in the Middle East.
“The cruise, which is commissioned to train Navy cadets, is always given a name that reflects the destination or region it is heading towards, which in this case is Dubai for the Expo.”
Cadets and marines lined up on deck waving the Mexican flag as crowds welcomed the vessel into the port on Monday, with the crew kitted out in caps and uniforms bearing Expo 2020 Dubai logo.
Capt Avila said the ship had docked in several countries before the UAE, including Greece, and would be open during the day, enabling the public to visit free of charge before its departure at 10am on November 15.
“So far, the journey has truly been exceptional,” Capt Avila said.
“Fortunately, we’ve been blessed by great weather and pleasant winds that have helped us to sail at optimum speeds most of the time.
“There are, of course, challenges. We have 62 training cadets on board and it can be difficult for those who are not used to spending so much time at sea, usually 23 days, non-stop.
“We try to keep spirits high with different activities, such as sports, lectures and even open-deck film screenings, and the kitchen crew does a brilliant job whipping up the best in Mexican cuisine to make us feel a little less homesick.”
He said having Mexico participate at Expo 2020 Dubai was an exciting time for the country and an opportunity to give people in the Middle East a taste of Mexican culture.
While the Cuauhtémoc is equipped with high-end technology, the vessel is used to train future Navy officials using a mixture of new and traditional methods.
That includes hoisting and rigging the wind sails, and using a sextant for celestial navigation, a handheld tool that measures the angle between the horizon and a visible object at sea.
“As well as that, our goal is to show the world a piece of Mexico in every port that we dock,” he said.
“The ship is a sort of a national floating pavilion, similar to the pavilion on show at Expo Dubai.
“For two days of our stopover in Dubai, the entire crew will do a deep clean of the ship, including polishing and painting, to keep our national brand looking good as new.”