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The Arrival of the Chilean Training Ship Esmeralda in West India Dock – 26th August 2015

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After the appearance of the Lord Nelson, another ship came into view with the arrival of the Esmeralda (BE-43) which is a steel-hulled four-masted barquentine tall ship of the Chilean Navy. Nicknamed the ‘White Lady’, the Esmeralda was built with the intention of becoming Spain’s national training ship, however the yard in which she was being built was badly damaged by explosions and the ship itself suffered considerable damage. In 1950, Chile and Spain entered negotiations about debts and Spain offered the not yet completed Esmeralda as part of the settlement. Chile took over ownership of the ship and she was launched in 1953.

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Since her commissioning, Esmeralda has been a training ship for the Chilean Navy. She has visited more than 300 ports worldwide acting as a floating ambassador for Chile. In the 1970s, the ‘White Lady’ gained a dark reputation when she was used by the Pinochet regime to hold political prisoners with allegations of torture being used.

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Since then, the ship has travelled the world in her ambassador role , most recently attending the Sail Amsterdam 2015 from the 19th to the 23rd August. The ship has a Length of 113 m (371 ft), Beam: 13.11 m (43.0 ft) and Height: 48.5 m (159 ft) and carries a crew of 300 sailors and 90 midshipmen.

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After the quiet entrance of the Lord Nelson, the arrival of the training ship “Esmeralda” was heralded by a lone piper and then the massed ranks of the crew began singing military marches as the ship entered the dock. A crowd of around 200 Chilean nationals were there to see the ship’s arrival, occasionally bursting into the Chilean national anthem.

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It is likely the ship will be open to visitors whilst in dock, but there are no details at the moment other than the ship leaves on the 30th August.

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