Steam Frigate / Ironclad Warship
The Arapiles was initially intended to be a wooden screw frigate but the changing times forced her to become a broadside ironclad warship.
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Arapiles was a frigate-turned-ironclad appearing in the middle to late 1860s and serving with the Spanish Navy. Construction delays negated her use in the Spanish conflict with Chile and Peru though she was launched in time to take some role in the war. The vessel would see an abrupt end to her sailing days when the political situation between Spain and the United States of America changed with a single incident at sea, effectively dooming her future at the hands of the Americans in American waters.
Design was of a peculiar nature in that the Arapiles was initially contracted and laid down by 1961 into 1962 as a steam frigate. However, the contract was rewritten in 1864 and the Arapiles now became an broadside ironclad mounting some 51 gun systems in her sides. The addition of the armor alone added some 203 tons to her displacement, effectively changing her initial design philosophy altogether. Her profile was dominated by three main masts and a single funnel amidships. Power was derived from a steam engine powered by six boilers and turning a single screw. Essentially, warships during this changing time were seemingly all taking on this unique look of utilizing sails and steam engine power. With a top speed of 12 knots and a full complement of weapons and crew, the Arapiles was a confident battle platform for the Spanish Navy.
The Arapiles career came to an unceremonious end when she ran aground off the coast of Venezuela. The damage was such that she needed immediate repairs and set berth in New York, USA. However, once in dock, the political situation between Spain and USA had worsened when a Spanish ship intercepted and commandeered the steamer Virginius off the coast of Cuba. As such, the Arapiles - still on dry dock in a New York port - was not allowed back out to sea by the Americans. By this time, the condition of her wooden hull was such that the vessel was more than a financial burden to repair at all.
Arapiles was ordered in 1861 and constructed began a year later by R & H Green of Blackwall. The vessel was launched in 1864 and officially commissioned in 1868 in Britain, making it home to Spain in December of that year. Her name was derived from the Duke of Wellington who took part in the Battle of Salamanca (1812) during the Peninsular War (the battle known in Spain and France as Los Arapiles) in which the Duke defeated the French.