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Chilean Navy Ship visits Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

By Priscilla Cabral-Pérez
Hawaii Hispanic News

HONOLULU, Hawaii — The Chilean Navy training ship Buque Escuela Esmeralda arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Aug. 30. Esmeralda is the second tallest and longest sailing ship in the world and has visited Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, U.S., and Canada on this training cruise.

The crew of 334 sailors and its commander, Captain William Corthorn, were welcomed by: Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific; Captain Jeffrey James, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam; Captain David Sheridan, commanding officer of USS Chosin; Gladys Vernoy, consul of Chile in Hawaii; and other U.S. Navy representatives.

According to its Facebook page: “The ship is the sixth to carry the name Esmeralda. The first was the frigate Esmeralda captured from the Spanish at Callao, Peru… 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 sacrifice.”

“Construction (of the present vessel) 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 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.”

“A visit to Hawaii, especially to Pearl Harbor, is always pleasant and significant for those who wear a uniform,” said Rear Admiral Piero Fagandini, Defense Attaché, Naval Attaché, and Chief of the Navy Mission to the U.S. in Washington D.C., who was visiting from D.C. to ensure Esmeralda’s stay was as efficient as possible.

During the training cruise, the sailors learn many skills, including those needed to confront the adversities of the sea, and “gives them a very enriching view of the world,” said Rear Adm. Fagandini.

The 56th training cruise for the 58-year-old ship is a historical one. A total of 47 women made up the first female personnel to be on-board.

“It makes me really proud. It is one more indication that we women can face any type of work,” said Vernoy. The crew’s itinerary included a luncheon with local military and community leaders, including Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, said Chilean Lieutenant Commander Mario Pedreros.

A friendly soccer match with the crew from the guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin was also scheduled. The Esmeralda’s next destination is Papeete, Tahiti. It will and then it will
head back to Chile to conclude the six month voyage.

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