Regarding the celebration of the Sail Cartagena de Indias 2022, in Colombia. the commander, ship captain Jairo Eligio Orobio Sánchez, the man in charge of the ARC Gloria, a WMU Alumni. Grants an interview for Agenda del Mar which FullAvanteNews is honored to share.
I meet a kind man, he greets me with a sincere smile. At 48 years old, he retains the athletic build of a former fencer, boxer, and track runner. He welcomes me in the commander’s cabin room, where teak wood prevails and which looks sober even amid gold and silver presents. bronze plates, marble, paintings, and memories of voyages, and ports that have been on board for decades.
All this belongs to the ship and the Colombian people, but so much symbology does not influence the simplicity of our character, who unpreparedly tells us about his childhood on the beaches of Chocó, it is easy to imagine him surfing the waves of the Pacific on the boards of the bed, and then -she points out smiling- “to earn a fight because they got wet and couldn’t sleep”. The same child whose eldest Pilatunas at the age of eight consisted of secretly going with his brother to fish offshore, “pulling paddle” in a canoe that could be three miles from the coast, while his mother, a mother of six children, worked in the Bahía Solano hospital as a nurse.
Proud of his origins, he talks about his humble home in Nabugá, when he had to take advantage of the low tide hour to walk to school. As I listen to him, I understand that I am facing a professional sailor who instinctively learned about currents, waves, and tides since his childhood, he has to be a very good maneuverer, I think.
How did you come up with the idea of joining the navy? I ask him.
He wanted to be an oceanographer, -he answers-. “At school, I saw a class called man, sea, and society, right there I studied marine biology, navigation, seamanship, and oceanography.”
He is referring to the Luis López de Meza school in Bahía Solano and the baccalaureate in marine sciences, a program sponsored by the German embassy. Later, in Quibdó, when he was already in eleventh grade, he found a book published by ICFES in which all the universities and careers in Colombia were listed, it appears that the Naval School is the only place where he could study oceanography, and this is his goal. . The history of his admission to this University of the sea is admirable, he only knew that he wanted to enter and he succeeded because of his academic merits. Later he would find out that thanks to Law 70 of 1993 he would be on a scholarship, he would have tickets and they would pay him a stipend to keep him going, “there were forty thousand pesos that he did very well,” he recalls complacently.
His story of how he managed to get into the best school in Quibdó where he graduated with an award for being the best in mathematics is also admirable, “although I couldn’t go to the ceremony because there was no money for the dress,” he tells me naturally.
At the Naval School, being a frigate lieutenant, he graduated as a Physical Oceanographer; As a lieutenant commander, he competes and wins a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in maritime affairs at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmo, Sweden.
This commander of the ARC Gloria is a diligent sailor with vast experience, his training cruise as a cadet was around the world in 1997, there he crossed the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, sailed through the seas of Japan, China, Java, the Arabian, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the North Sea, and passed through the Suez and Panama Canals. In that year he distinguished himself by being the best cadet on the cruise. He says that from the first commander he learned to be strict and organized.
On the ARC Gloria, he was also a deck officer in 2004 when he visited the Galapagos Islands, and Easter Island, and toured the Pacific coast of South America. Then in 2020, being the second to the commander, ship captain Javier Rubio, they faced the challenge of training the cadets in the midst of the pandemic and with satisfaction, he speaks of the objective achieved after sailing all year, in this moment of crisis is when it comes out to bring out a part of his philosophy of life. He talks to me about “How to view things: One is the one who puts mental limitations, puts a price and condition on destiny when you believe that in the world you carry the worst burden and it is not like that”.
Sea, river, and research navigator.
Being a lieutenant of a Fragata he formed the first crew of the tender ship ARC Buenaventura, he tells the anecdote of the precision with which he positioned himself with astronomical navigation during the trip across the Atlantic Ocean from Germany.
His first command was in the river patrol boat ARC Humberto Cortés and after the river patrol boats ARC Filigonio Hichamón, ARC Leticia and ARC Senén Araujo, in these boats he navigated the San Juan, Putumayo, Amazonas, Caquetá, Magdalena and Atrato rivers.
He was on board the oceanographic vessel ARC Malpelo for nearly three years and was its commander in 2018. He highlights the research work they carried out in the Caribbean Sea, on the discontinuity of the Hess escarpment of the Central American continental shelf, an argument that he is using our country to defend sovereignty over our exclusive economic zone waters.
In this year 2022, the captain of the ship Jairo Eligio Orobio Sánchez has commanded the flagship of the Colombians, a man who has come to occupy this position of honor thanks to his perseverance and discipline, his vocation for study has taken him far in his profession and it is clear that he has enjoyed every day in these 28 years of service. This Thursday, May 26, he will set sail for the ports of New York, Veracruz, and Kingston, for two months he will miss his wife Violeta and his children Tiago, April and Antonella, who are seven, four, and two years old. He will teach leadership classes, but “if they are weak in meteorology and astronomical navigation I will put my hand in,” he says firmly. When we ask him about his expectations as a commander, he tells us about working to maintain the institutional framework, instilling in the cadets the roots for the values and good customs that determine that the National Navy continues to be an institution of opportunities, in which the merits of each you determine your projection.
By: Ship Captain (RA) Jorge Prieto Diago