It has been incredibly busy here on the Empire State. The search and rescue drills continued with a very impressive helicopter rescue drill. The Spanish equivalent to our Coast Guard was kind enough to help us out by flying their rescue helicopter and crew out to the Empire State to perform the drill. Everyone was very excited and even those of us not participating in the drill were eager to go out on the sun deck and watch the dramatic “rescue”.
Last week, the wind picked up quite a bit in the Mediterranean Sea and the Empire State started taking some rather large rolls! Even some of our seasoned officers and crew commented on the rocking, though of course they were quite adept at handling the swells. A few of us newbies, however, needed to visit the excellent staff in Sick Bay for a little help managing some seasickness! The wind even delayed our arrival into Malta since the pilot boat was having a hard time meeting us due to the large swells. Eventually, we were able to dock at Valletta, Malta late in the evening on July 15 with all of us excited to begin our adventures there.
Valletta is a striking walled city located on a beautiful island in the Mediterranean. Malta has played a major role in many of the historic European wars including the Napoleon Wars, WWI and WWII. It even withstood a massive siege by the Ottoman Empire in 1565. The history of Malta is very rich and historical sites abound including forts, castles, museums and prehistoric temples dating back to 3600 B.C.
While some of us decided to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of Malta, others were more interested in experiencing the amazing outdoor adventures available on the Maltese Islands. There were intriguing sea cliffs and caves to explore. Many of us opted to participate in snorkeling and scuba diving trips to the many shipwrecks located around the islands. One of the most popular outings was to the Blue Lagoon located on Comino, a small island just north of Malta. A boat trip took many of the cadets and crew over to this tiny island with one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water there was so blue it seemed a bit unreal. Many of us enjoyed relaxing and swimming in this little slice of paradise!