Juan Sebastián Elcano (or del Cano) (Vizcaya, 1476 - Pacific Ocean, August 4 1526) was a Spanish explorer. He commanded back home the first successful expedition to circumnavigate the globe in 1522.
A merchant ship captain from Guetaria , Elcano violated Spanish law by surrendering a ship of his to Genoan bankers in repayment of a debt. Seeking a pardon from the Spanish King Charles V, he signed on, as a low level officer, to Ferdinand Magellan's expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Elcano was made captain of Conception, one of five vessels. Spared from execution by Magellan after taking part in a failed mutiny, Elcano went on to take command of the fleet when Magellan was killed in the Philippines, on April 27 1521.
On September 6, 1522, Elcano sailed into Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, aboard the Victoria, along with 17 other Europeans survivors of the 265 man expedition, and 4 Indians aboard. The profits of the spices they carried made them rich though. The king conceded him a coat of arms picturing a globe with the motto: Primus circumdedisti mihi (in Latin, "You went around me the first"). In fact, it was an East Asian native who was a servant of Magellan, that became the first man to circumnavigate the world when the fleet arrived to his home country.
In 1525 Elcano was appointed to the command of a fleet of 7 ships and sent to claim the Indonesian islands Moluccas for Spanish king Charles V.
Elcano died of malnutrition somewhere in the Pacific Ocean while attempting a second circumnavigation of the planet.