Warship Weds May 30
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, May 30
Here we have the Chiliean battleship Almirante Latorre (Formerly the HMS Canada)
Chile, part of a three-way South American Naval Race just before world war one ordered a pair of Battleships from Britain that went on to lead a life on their own.
The Chilean Battleship Order
Entering late into the South American battleship race was Chile. She ordered two Almirante Latorre-class battleships in 1910 from England. They were the best armed and equipped of any of the “ABC” country’s warships. Weighing in at 32,000 tons with ten 14inch (355mm) guns they could make 22.5 knots. They were more than a match for the Brazilian and Argentine vessels that they were build to compete with. Global events however prevented the pair of ships from being delivered. When World War One broke out in 1914 British shipbuilders halted work on the Chilean ships in order to fill dire domestic needs. The ships were later purchased by British authorities while still in construction to complete for the Royal Navy as the war went on.
This was not the first time this had happened to Chile. In 1903 a pair of 12,000 ton ‘pre-dreadnought’ battleships -the Constitucion and Libertad- ordered by Chile from English shipbuilders were confiscated by Britian while still on the builders slips to keep them from being bought by Russia.
The Almirante Latorre aka HMS Canada
The Almirante Latorre was completed to a slightly modified design in 1915 as the HMS Canada. She served in the Grand Fleet with a British crew and fought in the epic Battle of Jutland (along with the former Brazilian battleship Rio de Janeiro). She Fired 42 14in rounds and received no damage. In 1920 after refit she was resold to Chile for a nominal fee (half her original purchase cost) and finally took her original name to the seas. She was involved in a mutiny in 1931. When World War Two arrived the Chilean government offered her to purchase to the US but was declined. Chile did not declare war on Germany in World War Two until the final months of the conflict and the Almirante Latorre did not see combat against her old foe. Kept in perfect condition until she suffered an engine room fire in 1951 she was placed in reserve. She finished her service in 1959 as the last battleship afloat that had fought at Jutland. Her name is still carried by a frigate in the Chilean navy today