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BE-43 Esmeralda

The Chilean naval training ship "Esmeralda" (Buque Escuela "Esmeralda") makes yearly training voyages visiting ports around the world acting as a "roving" embassy for Chile. Ship school "Esmeralda" was acquired from Spain, whose Navy in 1946, ordered the construction of a sailboat, hull No. 32, Echavarrieta and Larrinaga shipyards, to replace the school ship "Juan Sebastián de Elcano. Its construction was initiated that year. "Juan of Austria" was designated. For various reasons, especially financial, construction suffered many delays.

On August 18, 1947, an explosion at the Base of submarine defences caused such destruction of the shipyard, the construction of the sailboat was paralyzed and the shipyard on the verge of bankruptcy. Then, the Government of Spain took charge of debts and created the society of Astilleros de Cadiz SA. Notwithstanding the foregoing, not continued with the construction of this sailing ship, whose hull was in stands of construction without arbolar and had been badly damaged by the explosion.

For several years, Spain imported tons of saltpeter from Chile to recover its agriculture devastated by the Civil War, taking advantage of a credit of the Government of Chile, but had not been able to pay the interests and contributions of capital. The last week of September 1950, the Counselor of the Embassy of Spain in Chile, don Eduardo Viada and his Naval Attache, Captain of Fragata Leopoldo Boado and Endiza, met with the Assistant Secretary of Navy, Rear Admiral Peter Spina Ritche, who reported the impossibility of making payments of credit and Spain ofrecí­a pay with manufactured products, including the shipbuilding area.

The unfinished "Juan of Austria", interested to Rear Admiral spine who reported to the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Carlos Torres Hevia, who after multiple efforts and collaboration of the Ambassador of Spain in Chile, don José Marí­a Doussinague, got the approval of the acquisition by the President of the Republic, don Gabriel González Videla. The proposition of the President was approved by the National Congress by Act No. 10.233 on December 27, 1951, with a cost of US$ 2,980,000. After studies in the field and some technical specifications change, on 23 October 1952, in Madrid, was signed the contract for a training ship under construction. He represented shipyard Rear Admiral Jesus Marí­a Rotaeche and back flames and by Chile, the Hon. Ambassador to Spain, don Luis Subercaseaux Errázuriz.

On May 12, 1953, at 1330 hours, coinciding with high tide, fired from the stands of the Astilleros de Cadiz S.A., the launch of the hull of the ship school. The ceremony began with the blessing of the ship by the Bishop Tomás Gutiérrez. Were present the excmo. Ambassador of Chile in Spain, Oscar Salas Letelier, the business manager of Chile, don Fernando Orrego Vicuña and his distinguished wife, Mrs Raquel Vicuña de Orrego, representatives from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, trade, the admirals Rotaeche and Estrada, the President of the society shipyards of Cádiz S.A. and numerous local authorities, special guests and public in general, concurrency that reached the 5,000 people.

After the speeches of rigor, godmother, Mrs Raquel Vicuña de Orrego, following the usual practice, took a bottle of sherry, which was sustained by ribbons with the colors of the flags of Chile and Spain, and broke it in the roda of the ship, which the ship began to slide by the Harrow to the chords of patriotic hymns in both countriesWhile the crowd threw alive and they waving handkerchiefs in the air to express their joy.

The training ship took the name of "Esmeralda" in commemoration to the name of the frigate captured in Callao by Admiral Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane, in a daring RAID on the night of the 05 to 06 of November of 1820.

On 15 June 1954, the society Astilleros de Cadiz S.A. awarded ship school "Esmeralda" to the Government of Chile, represented by the excmo. Ambassador to Spain, don Oscar Salas Letelier. On June 16, 1954, the sailboat sailed from Cádiz in command of the navi­o Captain Horacio Cornejo Tagle, heading to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. From there he went to New Orleans, where an oil plant was installed. Upon completion of the installation, set sail heading to the channel of Panama and teilatuetan to Tongoy in Chile, where he was received by Squadron. He enlisted to its landfall at Valparaiso in this port.

It made landfall on 01 September 1954, in the midst of a great reception by midgets vessels in the Bay and by the Buenos Aires citizenship to this port. Since that date, the Guadiamarinas courses, sailors, cadets and cadets who have sailed on their covers in various cruises of instruction have been numerous.

During his years of navigation has seeped in over 300 ports around the world, with an outstanding participation as a training ship and floating Embassy, receiving in their fraternal housing, visiting heads of State, diplomats, military chiefs, media and public in general. He has participated in the New York sailing operations in 1964, 1976 and 1989; at the Osaka World Sail in 1983 and the international sailing racing carried out in 1964, 1976,1982, 1990, winning the trophy "Cutty Sark" in these last two. During their cruises broke the world record of average for this type of ship speed: 16 knots during a voyage.

It has a sail of 2.852 m area. squares and 29 sails classified into 6 jibs, 4 blocks, 5 forestays, 3 crabs, 3 scandalous and 8 junipers. The height of the masts is 48.5 meters.

It has been renovated on several occasions, including three changes of engine. Admiral Rodolfo Codina. Commander in Chief, Chilean Navy, said in 2008 "The ESMERALDA is now over 50 years old but I think this type of training ship could still be in use in 70 years, 75 years. The example for us is in Spain, the JUAN SEBASTIAN DE ELCANO - the same type of ship as ESMERALDA. She was built in 1927 and the Spanish Navy wanted to replace her. They began to build the ESMERALDA, but when she was still in the shipyard they decided against it, and to continue with the ELCANO. ESMERALDA was sold to Chile in 1954; she is 30 years younger than ELCANO which is still going strong."

The Esmeralda served as a floating torture chamber during the dictatorship of Chile's Augusto Pinochet. Women were raped, men were beaten and tortured to death, such as the case of British-Chilean priest Father Michael Woodward whose body was made disappeared by the Chilean Navy after being tortured aboard La Esmeralda. Over the years, as part of Amnesty International's work against the gross human rights violations committed in Chile during the military government, the organization has documented and published a number of testimonies of victims tortured on the "Esmeralda".




Ship List
Name # Port Laid
Launch Comm Decomm Notes
BE-43 Esmeralda 1953 1954 ex-Juan de Austria

Displacement, full 3,673 tons
Displacement, light tons
GT (Gross Tonnage) tons
NT (Net Tonnage) tons
DWT (Deadweight) tons
Length, O/A 113,1 meters / 368 feet
Length, W/L meters / feet
Length, B/P meters / feet
Max Beam meters / feet
Draft7 meters / feet
Height meters / feet
Propulsion Type
Number of Main Engine(s)
Main Engine builder
Main Model
Main RPM
Main power2610 HP
Speed, maximum 17,5 knots
Speed, Cruise Knots
Range nautical miles at knots
Stores endurance days
Weapons Systems4 cañones de 57 mm.

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Page last modified: 04-12-2012 19:02:24 ZULU