HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

2 November 2016

Chilean Navy’s Esmeralda visits Jervis Bay.

If you were looking out over the bay at 6pm this morning you would have seen quite an amazing site as the tall ship Esmeralda slowly entered the bay along with the fast moving Frigate HMAS Darwin.

I was given some information yesterday by a friend Paul Newman, that the worlds largest operational sailing vessel the Esmeralda would be coming into the bay today but the time was’t know, just that it would be happening sometime in the morning. He thought I might like to take some photo’s for the Museum Blog, “he was right.”

I decided to get up before light and head down the bay, I could not see any lights which I would presume would have been on the mast heads of such a large ship, indicating she still hadn't’ entered the bay,  so I decided to head to Cape St George light house hoping I would be lucky enough to capture the vessel passing Point Perpendicular.

I was amazed and delighted to see the tall ship sitting stationary about a mile off shore.  Just as the sun peaked over the horizon she turned and started to head into the bay, unfortunately under her diesel engines and not her sails,  but she still made and impressive sight.
What was even more amazing was the unexpected appearance of the Australian Guided Missile Frigate HMAS Darwin,  FFG 04,  steaming out of the rising sun,  she quickly steamed up behind the slow moving Esmeralda, overtaking the tall ship as they passed under Point Perpendicular.
I spent the rest of the morning taking images from different vantage points between Murray’s breakwater and Iluka, here are some of those pictures.

IMG_1395Esmeralda, as the sun came over the horizon she was bathed in orange light, Still about a mile off shore she slowly turned her bow towards the bay.
coming-in-the-bayApproaching the bay around 6am.
entering-bay-2About to be overtaken by the fast moving HMAS Darwin.
entering-bay-3HMAS Darwin leaves the Esmeralda to enter the bay at a much slower pace.
IMG_1473Passing the lighthouse.  You could be mistaken for thinking you had just gone back to the early 20th century.
1At rest just off HMAS Creswell with another much smaller traveller in the foreground.
IMG_1520Esmeralda is a steel-hulled, four-masted barquentine, which is 113m long and has a mast height of 48.5m.
IMG_14872HMAS Darwin, She sailed right up to HMAS Creswell,  a small vessel approached and she quickly turned around and steamed back across the bay.
IMG_1518HMAS Darwin fast steaming back out of the bay.

La Esmeralda.
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.
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
Her dark past is one of torture and horror.
Reports from Amnesty International, the US Senate and Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission describe the ship as a kind of a floating jail and torture chamber for political prisoners of the Augusto Pinochet regime from 1973 to 1980. It is claimed that probably over a hundred persons were kept there at times and subjected to hideous treatment.
Due to this dark part of its history, the international voyages of the Esmeralda are often highly controversial - especially at the time when Pinochet was still in power but even after the restoration of Chilean democracy. The ship's arrival in various ports is accompanied by protests and demonstrations by local political groups and Chilean exiles.
Today she is what she was first intended to be, a Navy Training Vessel visiting ports around the world.

IMG_1514These last two fascinating image were sent to my by Paul Newman,  you can see one of the life boats being lowered down the side of the ship.
IMG_1512The Esmeralda is an impressive ship.

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