site.btaDay 85: Argentine Navy Lieutenant Commander Juan Nicolau Says Sailing With The Bulgarian Seamen Was a Wonderful Experience
Sailing with the Sv. Sv. Kiril i Metodii (NAVAL RSV 421) was a wonderful experience, Lieutenant Commander Juan Nicolau of the Argentine Navy, said in an interview for BTA. The pilot completed his mission on board RSV 421 on March 16, disembarking at the naval base in Mar del Plata. Lieutenant Commander Nicolau sailed with the ship from Argentina to Antarctica and then back to Argentina to assist the crew as an experienced navigator in polar waters.
"My work with the Bulgarian seamen was very interesting, we exchanged experience, I learned a lot about their way of work and how they perform their ship duties. They were very well prepared, discharging their professional duties. From a personal point of view, it was an exceptional experience - I can say it was great, I met great people. I got to know a different culture with different traditions," said Lieutenant Commander Nicolau.
"The South Atlantic, the Drake Passage and Antarctic waters are tough to navigate. Sailing south to Antarctica, we were able to pass safely through the Drake Passage, the weather was with us. On the return crossing, the seas were rougher but the ship held her own. I had no problems communicating with the crew - we discussed situations in English without difficulty. The advice I provided was more navigational and related to how to be able to react in time given the rapidly changing weather conditions in these areas. Yet I see this not so much as advice to Bulgarian colleagues, but as an exchange of mutual experience. If I were sailing in the Black Sea, I would also need someone to brief me on its peculiarities and the differences with the conditions in the Atlantic, for example," he said.
Lt. Commander Nicolau noted that night sailing in Antarctic waters was one of the most serious challenges the crew had faced. "Night sailing in Antarctica is risky as there are no beacons and other types of marine signage assisting sailors. The area requires more caution at night than any other area in the world. Sailing in this manner, mariners rely solely on their navigational aids. Nowadays, radar, GPS systems and electronic charts provide a great deal of information for navigation, but what a beacon gives you is the confidence of what you see, and the ability to see with your own eyes exactly where you are, and that is very important," he warned.
Lt. Commander Nicolau is already preparing for his next assignment at Argentina's Puerto Belgano naval base, 500 kilometres south of Mar del Plata. "I should be there in a few days as I take up my new duties on another ship, a destroyer from the Argentine navy," he added.