Magnificence of a frigate reminds city of Navy Day

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João Fonseca completed his military service in the Army. When he knew that this year’s Navy Day would be celebrated in Porto, he decided to get familiar with the program, particularly in the tours inside the ships. Therefore, this Friday, with a mix of emotion and nostalgia, he took some time to board the Fragata D. Francisco de Almeida, for the first time. A boat that is also anchored in Douro River, next to other ships from the Navy: “Sagres” and Lancha de Fiscalização Rio Minho, both moored, and Navio Patrulha Oceânico Sines, equally anchored in Ribeira.

The tour did not last more than 20 minutes, but it has allowed João Fonseca to scroll through the frigate from front to back. To observe the magnificence of the ship, that completes missions of all kinds: search and rescue, device for naval safety, combat actions, and many others. This time, the missiles are guarded, but there is a helicopter and another navigation instruments on display for those who visit the ship, until this Sunday.

“It is a visitation of memory and nostalgia. It is very important in my life” João Fonseca, resident of Maia, confesses. “We can rest assured because we have good professionals in the Navy”, he adds. João Fonseca went there to visit what he has met, in another times, as a soldier in the Army.

“A very interesting experience”

There are also those, who, on holidays in Porto, have ventured in boarding a semi-rigid, that transports the visitors in Cais da Alfândega to the two anchored ships, and liked what they have seen. That was Laura Caramazana’s and her boyfriend’s case, both Spanish. They were delighted with all the scenery of Douro.

“We were walking through Ribeira when we heard about the tours. Fortunately, it coincided with Navy Day”, she says, adding that: “It was a very lucky situation and an opportunity to board a military frigate. A very interesting experience”.

Laura had not been in Porto for 20 years. Today, she recognises that the city is better. “It loks nothing like it did 20 years ago. Beautiful as always, but more modern”, she adds.

As for Edgar Ribeiro, he visited the Fragata D. Francisco de Almeida for the curiosity of seeing a military ship, up close. A cook in one of the tourism boats anchored in Douro, as soon as he got off work, he wanted to observe a Navy ship. And he concludes: “In Portugal we have a good defence [with the Navy]”.

“My garrison is very pleased to be in Porto”

The frigate’s captain could not be happier with the adherence of the people from Porto, and, to the Navy Day, especially with the tours to the ships, more precisely of the “D. Francisco de Almeida”. Only in the first day there were more than 80 visitors, with a tendency to increase until Sunday since Saint Peter is giving an important help.

“The expectations are good. We have had many visitors in a ship that is anchored and not moored. My garrison is very pleased to be in Porto”, the captain André Pereira da Silva states.

Normally, the garrison is composed of 125 soldiers, of which 16 are female. However, the occasion calls for a celebration, therefore, during these days, it has reached maximum capacity (160 soldiers, of which 13 are exclusively for the helicopter that integrate the ship’s material). “It is a unique opportunity to see what types of soldiers we have in the army”, he says, calling on young people to join the Navy, after all, “a challenging project”. “We have disparate specialities that, afterwards, work with a sense of community. It is the most interesting part in the environment of a ship”, the captain André Pereira da Silva concludes.

Military ceremony in Alfândega

Celebrations for Navy Day continue with multiple activities, open to everyone. During the weekend, and besides the tours to the ships (between 10am and 12pm and 2pm and 6pm) there will be sea baptisms, escalation and diving, use of virtual reality to command a ship, access to climbing walls, pool diving, visits to tents with weaponry and airsoft, photographs next to the vehicles and ships that integrate the armed forces, all with maximum security and monitorisation from officials, along other attractions.

The program ends this Sunday, the 21st, with all the attention turned to the military ceremony that, starting at 12pm, gathers a formation of circa 500 soldiers for a parade in Rua Nova da Alfândega (direction Alfândega-Ribeira), available for everyone to watch. In the last part of the parade, that will last one hour and a half, a demonstration of abilities next to Douro River is scheduled. Before the ceremony, the Navy will organise a religious celebration in Igreja de São Francisco, at 10:30am.