Huáscar (ship, 1866)

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The Huáscar in the port of Talcahuano
The Huáscar in the port of Talcahuano
Ship data
flag PeruPeru (service and naval war flag) Peru Chile
ChileChile (national flag) 
Shipyard Laird & Brothers Birkenhead
building-costs 71,000 pounds
Launch October 7, 1865
Commissioning January 17, 1866
Whereabouts Museum ship
Ship dimensions and crew
59.43 m ( Lüa )
57.91 m ( KWL )
width 10.66 m
Draft Max. 4.57 m
displacement 1,745 t
crew 200 men
Machine system
machine 1 steam engine
1,500 PS (1,103 kW)
12.27 kn (23 km / h)
propeller 1
Rigging and rigging
Rigging Brigantine
Number of masts 2
  • 2 × 10 inch Armstrong cannons
  • 2 × 12 cm Armstrong cannons
  • 1 × 12 pounder cannon
  • 1 × Gatling repeater gun
  • Belt: 64-114 mm
  • Tower: 140 mm

The Huáscar is an ironclad that was built for Peru in Great Britain in 1865 and is now a museum ship in Chilean ownership. It was named after Huáscar (in Quechua "Waskar"), the stepbrother of the Inca king Atahualpa . The Huáscar was the largest warship in the Peruvian Navy during the Saltpeter War and was captured by the Chilean Navy in October 1879 .

The Huáscar is often referred to as a monitor because, like the USS Monitor, it has only one rotating tower. She is considered to be the second oldest preserved ironclad to this day (after the HMS Warrior built in 1860 ) and the oldest preserved tower ship in the world.

Technical layout, armor and armament

The displacement of the Huáscar is 1,745 tons. The machine had an output of 1,500 hp and the top speed was 12.3 knots . The autonomous range was seven and a half days with full power operation, ten days at a speed of 10 knots and 15 days at five knots with a bunker capacity of 300 tons of coal.

The height of the chimney was designed as a telescopic chimney and could be extended or retracted depending on whether sails were set or not.

The double-walled iron hull with the shipyard number 321 had five watertight compartments that could be separated by four iron bulkheads with a thickness of 5/8 inches (approx. 16 mm) each. The lateral iron armor of the hull ( belt armor ) reaches a little more than a meter below the waterline at maximum displacement and is four and a half inches thick in the midship area, decreasing to two and a half inches towards the bow and stern. The bow is additionally reinforced and provided with a ram . The armor on the turret is five and a half inches (140 mm) thick; the outer diameter of the tower is 7 m. The combat command post above deck is protected by 2 inch (approx. 50 mm) thick iron plates with viewing slits.

The ram bow protruding like a knife blade below the waterline could penetrate up to a meter into the unarmored lower part of the opponent's hull like a knife blade.

The armament consisted of two 10-inch Armstrong cannons (254 mm) in the turret, two 40-pounder Armstrong cannons (120 mm) on rotating axles on the sides of the ship and a 12-pounder cannon at the stern and a Gatling -Repeating gun (.44 caliber), which was usually mounted on the observation platform on the main mast .

The two main guns were built into the rotating armored turret and designed as muzzle-loaders to make loading the guns easier and to prevent smoke from developing inside the turret. The projectiles were pulled up from the ammunition chambers with chain hoists and pushed into the muzzle , which had been lowered under the ship's deck for loading . The rate of fire was about five minutes. The rotation of the tower was initially accomplished with human power through a manual turnstile below deck, which was operated by 16 men. It was replaced by a machine drive in the 1880s, but can now be seen again in its original design. The strength of the Huáscar was around 200 men.


Construction and transfer to Peru

On August 12, 1864, sea ​​captain José María Salcedo, a Chilean naval officer who acted on behalf of the Peruvian government, ordered an ironclad from the Laird & Brothers shipyard in Birkenhead (Great Britain) for the naval war against Spain . The price was 71,000  pounds (excluding guns ). The machine and boiler systems came from Penn & Sons , while the gun armament was supplied by Armstrong & Co.

The ship's designer was Cowper Phipps Coles , a captain in the British Navy who is considered one of the inventors of the armored turret and whose designs were based on the experience he had gained during the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War . The few years later after a very similar plan as the Huáscar , but under pressure from the British Admiralty two towers built captain , sank due to the preponderance of towers and low freeboard on the maiden voyage in September 1870 storm off Cape Finisterre . Almost 500 people were killed, including the builder.

The launch of the Huáscar took place on October 7, 1865, the delivery took place in December 1865. On January 17, 1866 the ship ran under the command of Salcedos accompanied by the British steamer Thames under the Peruvian flag from Birkenhead to South America. The eventful voyage first led to Brest (January 20 to February 25), where the armored frigate Independencia, also built in England, joined the group, via Madeira , Rio de Janeiro (April 1), the Strait of Magellan (May 24) and the Chilean ports of Punta Arenas (May 29), Ancud and Valparaíso (June 11). The Huáscar was manned by a mixed crew of English, Peruvian and Chilean sailors. On the maiden voyage there were serious disputes between Salcedo and his officers and between the commanders of the two Peruvian ships and numerous incidents, including a clash on the Atlantic with the Independencia , two mutinies with shootings on board in France and Brazil, massive desertions of the Crew in the ports called, several severe storms and various combat operations in which Spanish cargo ships were seized and partially sunk. At times, the ships were escorted by US warships. On arrival in South Pacific waters, however , the hostilities against Spain had already ended. In Punta Arenas the convoy met the Prussian warship Vineta , from which the Huáscar was stashing coal. In Valparaíso, after Salcedo's replacement, the ship remained in the dock under the command of various Peruvian and US ship officers until it was ordered to Peru after the outbreak of the Peruvian civil war in January 1868 and arrived in the port of Callao on February 2, 1868 .

The mutiny on the Huáscar

Contemporary depiction of the naval battle of Pacocha between the Huáscar and ships of the British Pacific Fleet (1877), the only direct duel between traditional wooden warships and a solid iron ironclad in naval history.

After an unsuccessful coup attempt by the Peruvian politician and later president (1879-1880) Nicolás de Piérola Villena , the Huáscar was captured on May 6, 1877 by a group of coupists led by Corvette Captain Manuel María Carrasco and cruised as a mutineer in front of the for almost a month peruvian coast. Piérola itself was also taken on board with a number of trailers in mid-May. On May 28, 1877 the rebel ship was captured by the Peruvian fleet, at the head of the brand new armored frigate Independencia under the command of sea captain Juan Guillermo More Ruiz, at Cape Pichalo, but was able to escape. On May 29, the then commander of the British Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Algernon Frederick Rous Horsey , stopped the ship with a shot across the bow and asked the captain to surrender. The subsequent Seegefecht in the Pacocha-bay at Pisagua , wherein the Huáscar the Schraubenkorvette HMS Amethyst , Horseys Flagship, and the frigate HMS Shah faced, was the first and only military meeting between wooden British warships traditional type, and a fully-iron armored ship . The British deployed for the first time in the naval history a Whitehead - Torpedo one, but which missed its target. The Huáscar was again able to escape almost undamaged, which caused a sensation in the international press and was widely spread as a disgrace to the Royal Navy . The British machinists of the Huáscar , who were prisoners on the ironclad because they did not want to join the mutiny (which is why the ship could mostly only be sailed and not moved by machine power), were now released from board. Two days later the mutinous crew surrendered to the Peruvian authorities in Iquique after a fruitless attempt to persuade the rest of the fleet to participate in the uprising .

The Huáscar under the Peruvian flag in the saltpeter war

A sea bird's eye view of a vivid model of the Huáscar flying the Peruvian flag. The foremast has been dismantled to clear the field of fire (a measure ordered by Admiral Grau in the run-up to the winter 1879 campaign, along with other adjustments to improve combat fitness).

Shortly after the outbreak of the Saltpeter War against Chile , the Huáscar took part in the naval battles of Iquique and Punta Gruesa on May 21, 1879 under the command of the Peruvian Admiral Miguel Grau Seminario . Here she rammed and sank the Chilean corvette Esmeralda under frigate captain Arturo Prat , who even fell on the deck of the Huáscar during a failed attempt at boarding . The Chileans had to end the sea ​​blockade of the then still Peruvian port of Iquique and withdraw with their ships to Valparaíso . In the following period, the Huáscar was able to escape the Chilean fleet again and again and very effectively disrupted the Chilean supply lines for more than four and a half months. The shelling of numerous Chilean ports and especially the capture of the transport ship Rímac on July 23, 1879, which was on its way to Antofagasta with 300 soldiers , horses , ammunition and military equipment , caused great public excitement and led to the resignation of the commander-in-chief of the Chilean navy , Rear Admiral Juan Williams Rebolledo .

By the actions of the Huáscar , the Chileans found themselves so disturbed in the progress of their land operations that they had to postpone the invasion of Peru again and again and did everything possible to eliminate the enemy flagship . Finally, the Huáscar was seized by six warships under the command of the new Chilean naval commander, Sea Captain Galvarino Riveros Cárdenas, on October 8, 1879 and in the naval battle of Angamos , in which Admiral Grau was killed, the Chileans shot incapable of maneuvering and then boarded and captured. After almost all Peruvian officers had died immediately before boarding , the signal officer, First Lieutenant Pedro Gárezon Thomas , took command last and gave the chief flight engineer Samuel Mc Mahon the order to open the bulkheads in order to put the Huáscar on the ground . Since the sinking was unsuccessful due to technical problems that could be traced back to damage from the bombardment, the ship fell into enemy hands and the surviving crew was taken prisoner. The Huáscar was towed to Valparaíso, badly damaged.

The Huáscar under the Chilean flag

The ruined tower of the Huáscar after the capture by the Chileans
The heavily damaged Huáscar in Valparaíso in 1879 (press drawing)
The Huáscar in her active time as a Chilean warship (before 1885), watercolor by the British marine painter Lieutenant of the Sea Rudolph Edward March Phillipps de Lisle (1853–1885)

After its conquest and repair in the port of Valparaíso , the Huáscar was used by the Chileans against Peru in the further course of the war and took part in various operations. She first drove under the command of the Swedish-born captain Manuel Thomson, who led the blockade of the port of Arica and fell on February 27, 1880 in an artillery battle with the Manco Cápac in front of the fortifications of Arica. The ship was then commanded by the Chilean Rear Admiral Carlos Condell de la Haza .

With Arturo Prat , Admiral Grau and Thomson, a total of three leading commanders fell on board the Huáscar in the course of the Saltpeter War .

In 1885 the ship was modernized and equipped with four new boilers and a new ship propeller ; In addition, a steam-powered device was installed to move the turret, the smoke chamber was renewed and a slightly higher chimney was installed.

In the Chilean civil war of 1891 , the Huáscar took part in the operations against the troops loyal to the government with the rest of the Chilean fleet, which had risen on January 7th under the naval captain Jorge Montt Álvarez on the side of the Congress against the president José Manuel Balmaceda . On January 23, the warship took part in the occupation of Taltal in northern Chile by the congress troops and on February 12 prevented the disembarkation of presidential troops in the mine port in the Bay of Patillos near Iquique . Then she was used for coastal protection and as an escort ship for troop transports.

The Huáscar then remained in service for the Chilean Navy for several years. Shortly after another overhaul in 1896, a boiler explosion occurred off Viña del Mar in 1897, killing 14 crew members. Since then, the ship has been anchored at the naval base of Valparaíso and was decommissioned in 1901 as part of an already planned fleet modernization. In 1905, the naval command rejected the idea of converting the Huáscar into a modern gunboat (the turret with the Coles gun would have to be removed for this).

In 1915, a museum was set up for the first time in the ship, which is an important historical trophy. In 1917, however , the Huáscar was designated as the mother ship of six US-built submarines of the Holland 602 ( H-Class ) series, which Chile received from the United Kingdom in 1915 as compensation for the confiscation of its warships ordered in England at the beginning of the first World War had been left. Chile was able to quickly take possession of these boats in Boston shortly after the United States entered the war in July 1917 and transfer them to Chile in the spring of 1918. The Huáscar became the living quarters of the submarine crews in Valparaíso for a few years, while the museum was moved to the building of the neighboring Chilean naval school.

Memorial and museum ship

After the submarines were relocated in 1924, a restoration of the Huáscar as a traditional ship was considered due to its historical importance and in October of the same year a nationwide fundraising was carried out for the first time for this purpose. In 1934 the monitor was equipped with four salute cannons and has since been anchored as a publicly visible national monument in the naval base of Talcahuano.

It was not until 1951 and 1952 that a historical restoration followed, with the condition of the ship from 1878 being largely restored and the historical cabin furnishings also dismantled and reinstalled. A picture gallery and a prayer room was built on the former engine deck to commemorate the naval officers and sailors of both nations who had served on the ship and were killed. On the anniversary of the naval battle of Angamos on October 8, 1952, the inauguration of the new museum ship took place, which, according to the will of the initiator of the historical restoration, the then commander of the Chilean naval base in Talcahuano, Rear Admiral Pedro Espina Ritchie, from now on no longer solely as a war trophy, but as a Memorial site should be viewed.

On the initiative of Rear Admiral Carlos Chubretovich and under the direction of later Vice Admiral Gerald L. Wood McEwan, then director of the Talcahuano naval repair yard, extensive restoration and repair work was carried out on the ship in 1971 and 1972. The entire hull was repaired and renewed in the dry dock and the Coles tower was completely restored. In addition, the machine system was completely reinstalled and restored with the help of the manufacturer's original plans, except for the boiler, which had now been scrapped, in order to give visitors a more precise impression of the original condition of the warship.

The drive propeller, which was renewed in 1885, was replaced by the original that was still in existence (the newer propeller has since been exhibited in front of the berth). In 2016 the furniture and lighting were restored. The Huáscar is one of the earliest fully iron-armored warships ( Ironclads ) and can be viewed by the general public as one of two surviving ships of this type in the world.

In 1995 the Chilean Navy received the Maritime Heritage Award from the World Ship Trust for the excellent restoration of the Huáscar and in recognition of the historical and cultural importance of the ship for Chile and Peru as a maritime cultural heritage .


Tsunami damage 2010

To the dramatic earthquake of February 27, 2010 following the tsunami which completely devastated the port of Talcahuano, survived the Huáscar contrary to initial reports, which spoke of a loss of the ship, almost undamaged. As a result of the tidal wave, the ship was lifted from its keel and torn from the moorings and drifted a little west into the bay of Concepción , where it hit a mole . There it was about 30 meters away from its usual location for a few weeks until a rescue team from the Chilean Navy maneuvered the museum ship back to its original location at the end of March 2010.

Returns discussion

Still under the impression of the horror reports about a possible loss of the monitor during the tsunami catastrophe, the film La Esmeralda, 1879 sponsored by the Chilean government - the most expensive film ever made in Chile - was released in May 2010 after five years of shooting The sinking of the corvette Esmeralda by three rams by the Huáscar off Iquique shows. As a result, voices were raised again in Peru calling for the emblematic warship to be returned and bringing an action to the International Court of Justice for the ship to be returned to the original flag state. Following a meeting with his Peruvian counterpart, the Chilean Defense Minister Jaime Ravinet made the surprising suggestion, in response to questions from journalists, that the Huáscar could possibly be returned to Peru as a sign of reconciliation. The proposal was welcomed by the former Secretary General of the United Nations , the Peruvian Javier Pérez de Cuéllar , among others . After public criticism in his own country, Ravinet reaffirmed his initiative in a television interview and recalled the example of Franco-German reconciliation after the Second World War; However, he tied the proposal, which he described as a spontaneous solo effort that had not been agreed with either government, on the condition of a fundamental improvement in Chilean-Peruvian relations in the long term and a peaceful overcoming of the differences between the two countries that had persisted since the Saltpeter War . The Chilean President Sebastián Piñera did not comment on the discussion. On the other hand, there was a general lack of understanding when the Peruvian Vice President and naval expert Luis Giampietri Rojas , a former vice admiral , suggested that the Huáscar monitor could be sunk and thus complete the unsuccessful attempt that the Peruvian team had made after the death of Admiral Graus to target the naval hero of both countries in this way to create a common symbolic grave on the sea floor. This would end the discrepancies between Peru and Chile. This radical measure was proposed by the Peruvian Rear Admiral Augusto Parodí in 1982. Giampietri described this proposed solution as a purely personal conviction that he had already formed as a young midshipman . The Peruvian President Alan García admonished those involved not to “poison relations between Peru and Chile by quarreling over the Huáscar” and made it clear that the return of the ship was not on his government's agenda. The whereabouts of the Huáscar played a role in the proceedings before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which had been pending since 2008 and whose ruling of January 27, 2014 led to the final clarification of remaining border issues between the two countries and which is seen as evidence of the maturation of their bilateral relations not matter.

The debate about the whereabouts of the Huáscar started again in the winter of 2016 when a group of 50 Peruvian parliamentarians from all political parties signed an initiative motion on June 10, 2016, with the participation of the then President of the Peruvian Congress Luis Iberico and the former Peruvian Defense Minister Daniel Mora , with which President Ollanta Humala should be asked to ask his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet to visit the ship in Peru for several weeks to mark the 200th anniversary of Peru's independence in 2021. The idea met with some harsh criticism within the party landscape of Peru and among the public and was rejected for various reasons. For some it did not go far enough, as the return of the traditional ship was not required, but only a temporary visit; others found the request to be historically inappropriate, impractical, or politically unwise. Ambassador Alan Wagner, who in 2014 represented Peru before the International Court of Justice, called the initiative a “ crazy idea ” ( despropósito ). There was no official reaction from Chile as there was no diplomatic request to the country, as the Chilean government spokesman Marcelo Díaz made clear on June 15. Unofficially, the reactions were mostly negative. The mayor of Talcahuano pointed out the incalculable dangers of a sea transport of the Huáscar and the efforts made by Chile in the restoration of the ship and at the same time invited the Peruvian parliamentarians to visit Talcahuano. The social democratic Chilean parliamentarian Jorge Tarud called on the Peruvian parliament, before adopting such initiatives, to initiate the implementation of the Hague arbitration award of January 27, 2014, which Chile had already fulfilled, which had been outstanding for two years. In addition, it was impossible to assess whether Peru would actually return the ship to Chile after a loan was terminated.


The Huáscar is still listed as an active part of the naval forces in the fleet register of the Chilean Navy and has its own crew and commander. Current commander of Huáscar is Frigate Captain José Marfull Canales (2017), which are stationed in Talcahuano modern 2016 ocean-going patrol boat Piloto Pardo , commanded by he Special transports, (OPV-81, year 2007). Sea rescue - and surveillance operations in the Chilean exclusive economic zone conducted .


  • Pedro Espina Ritchie: Monitor Huascar. 2nd ed., Editorial Andrés Bello, Santiago de Chile 1974, limited preview in Google Book search.
  • Jorge Ortiz Sotelo, Carlos López Urrutia: Monitor Huáscar: una historia compartida (1865–2005). Edited by the Ibero-American Society for Shipping and Naval History ( Asociacion de Historia Marítima y Naval Iberoamericana ), Lima 2005, ISBN 9972-877-04-3 .
  • Carlos Chubretovich Álvarez: Recuperación del RH “Huáscar”. In: Revista de Marina , Vol. 125 (2009), Volume 126, Issue 6 (913), pp. 554-562, online (PDF; 217 KB).

Web links

Commons : Huáscar  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Huáscar entra a mantención (“Huáscar goes into dock”), video report of the Chilean television channel from August 19, 2013 about the last five-year routine maintenance of the Huáscar , accessed in April 2015 (Spanish).
  2. a b See Foundation In Pectore - Fundación Miguel Grau (ed.): GRAU (official Peruvian biography of the national hero Admiral Grau), p. 129.
  3. See Stiftung In Pectore - Fundación Miguel Grau (ed.): GRAU (official Peruvian biography of the national hero Admiral Grau), p. 185.
  4. Nicolás García: Chile festivals los 100 años de su arma submarina con programas de renovación. In: (Spanish armaments online magazine), July 4, 2017, accessed on May 19, 2018.
  5. Fuerza de Submarinos cumple un siglo y define futuro de sus unidades más antiguas. In: El Mercurio , July 2, 2017, p. C9.
  6. a b c d e Pablo Matus I., Emilio Novoa A. (arr.): Enciclopedia regional del Bío Bío. Published by the regional government of the Región del Bío-Bío , Pehuén Ed., Santiago de Chile 2005, p. 225 in the Google book search.
  7. Carlos Álvarez Chubretovich: Recuperación del RH "Huáscar". In: Revista de Marina , 6/2009, pp. 554-562 (here: p. 561).
  8. Carlos Álvarez Chubretovich: Recuperación del RH "Huáscar". In: Revista de Marina , 6/2009, pp. 554-562 (here: p. 559).
  9. a b Reliquia histórica "Huáscar" entró a dique por mantención en ASMAR Talcahuano. Press release of the Chilean Navy dated March 7, 2017 about the scheduled maintenance of the Huáscar in the floating dock in summer 2017, accessed in April 2017.
  10. Gloria Ledermann E. ( Copec , ed.): Chiletur. Zona Sur 2018 (10th edition). Las Condes 2018, p. 30.
  11. Press release of the Chilean Navy from March 31, 2010 (Spanish, with photos of the recovery)
  12. Entry on (Spanish, with short trailer ), accessed in April 2015.
  13. Pérez de Cuéllar a favor de que Chile devuelva el monitor Huáscar (“Pérez de Cuéllar would welcome the return of the monitor Huáscar by Chile”), press release in La República ( Lima , Peru) of August 21, 2010, accessed in April 2015.
  14. Polémica por devolución del Huascar al Perú (“Dispute over the return of the Huáscar to Peru”), YouTube recording of the interview with Defense Minister Ravinet on the TV channel BIO-BIO La Radio ( Concepción , Chile) on August 20, 2010, accessed in April 2015 .
  15. Giampietri propuso hundir el Huáscar para eliminar discrepancias entre Perú y Chile ("Giampietri proposes sinking the Huáscar to eliminate discrepancies between Peru and Chile"), press report in El Comercio (Lima, Peru) of August 20, 2010 with a quote from Giampietri's statement, accessed April 2015.
  16. Carlos Álvarez Chubretovich: Recuperación del RH "Huáscar". In: Revista de Marina , 6/2009, pp. 554-562 (here: pp. 560-562).
  17. Alan García pide no envenenar relaciones con Chile con polémica sobre Huáscar ("Alan García asks not to poison relations with Chile by dispute over the Huáscar"), press release on of August 22, 2010, accessed in April 2015.
  18. ^ Solicitan retorno temporal del monitor Huáscar por bicentenario. In: El Comercio (Peru), June 13, 2016; Gobierno de Chile y la idea de llevar el Huáscar a Perú: "No hay ninguna solicitud formal". In: Soy Valparaíso (Chile), June 15, 2016; Perú le pidió a Chile devolver el Huáscar y así reaccionó su gente. In: Perú.com (Peru), June 17, 2016; all accessed on April 28, 2017.
  19. Armada realizó exitoso operativo de traslado de maquinaria pesada a isla Mocha. In: Vigía (Journal of the Chilean Navy), No. 370 (April 2016), monthly almanac, accessed April 2017.
  20. Torgeir Higraff (Thor Heyerdahl Institute): Kon-Tiki2 Expedition 2015–2016. Scientific Cruise Report. (PDF; 3.9 MB) Oslo, February 2017, p. 5.