Peruvian Navy

The Peruvian Navy in WWI

Modest, both in 1914 and before that date, especially against the nearby giants that were Chile, Brazil and Argentina, Peru however, has a fairly rich naval history. Peru was one of the first countries in South America to use a battleship, the Huascar. But the pacific war that ended in 1883 left the country bloodless, with a navy completely destroyed. In 1906, the Peruvian fleet was composed only of the cruiser Lima, 1790 tons, dating from 1881, and the river gunboat America, the old coastal monitor Atahualpa, and cadet schoolship Apurimac (tall ship).

BAP Almirante Grau in the 1920s
BAP Almirante Grau in the 1920s

A fairly modest rearmament plan was ordered, leading to the order in UK of two light cruisers, added to the two submarines built in France of the Ferre class. In 1912, France was also contacted to deliver her armoured cruiser Dupuy de Lome. And although the vessel was officially transferred under the name of Commandante Aguirre, and a small crew came in France to raise the national mark on the ship, the cruiser never left the harbor and was eventually sold to a Belgian shipowner, to become a merchant ship. The French naval mission that had settled in Peru also managed to sell the destroyer Rodriguez (ex-Actée).

Neutral at the beginning of the war, Peru however diligated its ships for the escort of merchant convoys. Only one civilian ship was sunk in 1917, for a fleet of 40 tall ships and 10 steamers, and yet, in June 1918, Peru declared war on Germany, but could not send any ship in Europe, not surprisingly. The command of the fleet was vested in a vice-admiral and the peculiarity of the livery of the Peruvian ships was to be greyish-brown, quite unique, and an interesting information for modellers.

Peruvian cruiser Almirante Grau in 1944
Peruvian cruiser Almirante Grau in 1944

3 Cruisers: 2 class Almirante Grau (1906), Lima (1881).
1 Destroyer: Rodriguez (formerly French Actée).
2 Submersibles: Ferré class (1912).
4 Miscellaneous: Monitor Atahualpa (1861) discarded 1910, gunboat America (1904), gunboat Santa Rosa (1883).

The peruvian ships in detail:

Almirante Grau class cruisers (1906)

The flagship of the Peruvian Navy, was from 1906 to 1958, the venerable Almirante Grau. A light cruiser by displacement, it was a far cry from the other three south-american giants and their dreadnoughts. The Grau was the lead ship of a class of two cruisers, Almirante Grau and Colonel Bolognesi, ordered at Armstrong-Elswick in 1905 and launched in March and Sptember 1906. They were the most powerful ships of the Peruvian Navy for 50 years. The lead ship was named after war hero Miguel Grau, who held the Chilean Navy at bay in 1879. There was a subtle difference in design, as the Grau did not had any poop. They were 3100 tons ships, capable of 24.64 knots (Grau sea trials).

Armament: Both ships were armed with two shielded 6-in/50 cl guns (125 mm) on the front and rear forecastle decks, eight shielded 3 in guns (76 mm) along the lower deck sponsons, alternating with smaller 6 pdr of which four were mounted amidship and two on each side of the forward bridge superstructure. There was also one 1-pdr saluting gun and two 18 in (457 mm) submarine torpedo tubes.

Armour comprised protected decks by 1.15 in (38 mm), 6 in gun mounts, 3 in gun shields, and 3 in for the conning tower (76 mm).
Propulsion: Their machinery comprised two shafts connected to yarrow Vertical Triple Expansion 4-cyl. engines fed by 10 Yarrow watertube boilers, rated for 14,000 hp which gave a nominal speed of 24 knots, 500 tons of coal and a 3276 nautical miles range at 10 knots.

Completed in october 1906 and march 1907 respectively, they did not really participated in the first world war, instead making merchant traffic protection patrols. They were refitted after the war in 1923-25 at Balboa in the canal zone, the boilers retubed, and refitted to burn oil. They also received Italian fire control systems. In 1934-35 they were refitted again, receiving brand new oil-furing Yarrow boilers, and the next year, they received new 3 in AA guns, Japanese-made. The scope of their career during WW2 is beyond this chapter.

Original Blueprint of the Almirante Grau
Original Blueprint of the Almirante Grau

Peruvian destroyer Teniente Rodriguez

Peruvian Destroyer Rodriguez

This was basically a French Chasseur class destroyer, ex-Actée, which arrived in Peru in 1914. She has been indeed detained for some time in Brazil after her arrival. She was stricken in 1939. For characteristics see the French section about WW1 destroyers.
No photo is known of her.

Ferre class submarines

Peruvian submarine Ferre
Photo of the Ferre (Aldo Fracaroli Coll.)

The Ferre and Palacios were two Laubeuf-style submarines built in France, at Schneider-Creusot yards, and launched in 1912 and 1913. They were ordered specifically after the French Naval mission in Peru (which comprised the Dupuy de Lome deal), in 1908-1914. Both submarines were loaded entire on the SS Kangaroo, specifically modified to carry them. They served actively for training duties and patrols in WW1, but were eventually stricken in 1919, because of the lack of spare parts and scarcity of batteries.

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