(BE-43) is a steel-hulled four-masted barquentine tall ship of the
Chilean Navy and currently the second tallest and longest sailing ship
in the world.
The ship is the sixth to carry the name Esmeralda. The first was the
frigate Esmeralda captured from the Spanish at Callao, Peru, by
Admiral Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane of the Chilean Navy, in a bold
incursion on the night of 5 November 1820. The second was the corvette
Esmeralda of the Chilean Navy which, set against superior forces,
fought until sunk with colors flying on 21 May 1879 at the Battle of
Iquique. These events mark important milestones for the Chilean Navy
and the ship's name is said to evoke its values of courage and
Construction began in Cádiz, Spain, in 1946. She was intended to
become Spain's national training ship. During her construction in 1947
the yard in which she was being built suffered catastrophic
explosions, which damaged the ship and placed the yard on the brink of
bankruptcy. Work on the ship was temporarily halted. In 1950 Chile and
Spain entered into negotiations in which Spain offered to repay debts
incurred to Chile as a result of the Spanish Civil War in the form of
manufactured products, including the not yet completed Esmeralda.
Chile accepted the offer and the ship was formally transferred to the
ownership of Chile in 1951. Work then continued on the ship. She was
finally launched on 12 May 1953 before an audience of 5,000 people.
She was christened by Mrs. Raquel Vicuña de Orrego using a bottle
wrapped in the national colors of Spain and Chile. She was delivered
as a four-masted topsail schooner to the Government of Chile on 15
June 1954, Captain Horacio Cornejo Tagle in command.
Her sister ship is the training ship for the Spanish Navy, the four-masted
topsail schooner Juan Sebastián Elcano. Sometime in the 1970s
Esmeralda's rigging was changed to a four-masted barquentine by
replacing the fore gaffsail (course sail) by two main staysails. The
third (top) main staysail is still in place. She has now five
staysails, three topsails, six jibbs, three course gaff sails, four
square sails, 21 all in all.