Spanish schooner Virgen de Covadonga

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Covadonga at berth in Valparaiso, Chile
Name: Virgen de Covadonga
Ordered: June 10, 1857
Builder: Arsenal de la Carrara shipyard (Cádiz, Spain)
Cost: 5,000,000 Reales de Vellón
Laid down: 13 February 1858
Launched: 28 November 1859
Commissioned: 8 October 1859
Captured: Battle of Papudo, 26 November 1865
Fate: Captured by Chilean Navy during the Chincha Islands War
Name: Covadonga
Acquired: 26 November 1865
Commissioned: 4 December 1865
Fate: Sunk by a mine in Chancay, Peru during the War of the Pacific, 13 September 1880
General characteristics
Type: Screw-propelled schooner
Tons burthen: 630 tons
Length: 107 ft (33 m)
Sail plan: Brigantine sail rigging
Speed: 7 kn (13 km/h) on steam
Complement: 110 crewman
  • 2 70-pounder (200 mm) revolving guns
  • 2 9-pounder guns (*)
  • )
Notes: (*) Installed after 21 May 1879

The schooner Virgen de Covadonga was a ship that participated in the Chincha Islands War and the War of the Pacific, under Spanish and Chilean flags. She was launched in 1859. Covadonga hit a floating mine and sank off Chancay in 1880.


A Royal Order of 10 June 1857, led to Covadonga's keel being laid at the Arsenal de la Carrara in Cádiz, Spain, on 13 February 1858. She was a wooden schooner that was also fitted with steam propulsion. She was launched on 28 November 1859, and her construction cost a total of 5 million Reales de Vellón. She was named for the Battle of Covadonga - a highly symbolic event in Spanish history, being considered the beginning of the Reconquista.

She was commissioned by Royal Command on 8 October 1858. Her first commander was Lieutenant Evaristo Casariego y García. She was originally intended as a mail boat between Manila and Hong Kong, with her berth at the Naval Base of Manila, in the Philippine Islands.

Chincha Islands War service[edit]

During the Chincha Islands War, Covadonga served as an auxiliary ship to the Spanish fleet. The Chilean corvette Esmeralda, under the command of captain Juan Williams Rebolledo, captured Covadonga during the Naval Battle of Papudo, on 26 November 1865. Her capture led to Spanish Admiral Juan Manuel Pareja committing suicide.

Covadonga was commissioned into the Chilean Navy on 4 December 1865, under her original name. During this war, she also participated at the Naval Battle of Abtao.

War of the Pacific service[edit]

During the War of the Pacific, Covadonga and Esmeralda, as the oldest and slowest ships of the Chilean navy, were left behind to blockade the port of Iquique. There they participated in one of the most important naval battles of the war.

Esmeralda faced the ironclad Huáscar at the Naval Battle of Iquique, and Covadonga manage to escape from the attacks of the Peruvian ironclad Independencia when the latter collided with a submerged rock and sank, after trying to ram the schooner, Naval Battle of Punta Gruesa, both on 21 May 1879.


On 13 September 1880, while enforcing a blockade in the port of Chancay, Peru, the sailors of Covadonga saw an unmanned boat loaded with fresh fruit and produce being carried by the currents. When they tried to lift the boat it exploded as the Peruvians had rigged it as a floating mine. Covadonga sank in less than 10 minutes.

In the disaster, out of the 109 men of the crew, the commander, Captain Pablo Ferrari, and 32 sailors died, 29 were rescued by the gun-boat Pilcomayo, and 48 were captured by the Peruvians. Also among the dead was petty officer Constantino Micalvi, a survivor of the Naval Battle of Iquique.

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