Its construction was authorized by Supreme Decree of 30 June 1852, signed by the President of the Republic Manuel Montt and the Minister of Marine and José Francisco Gana which allowed "to invest the sum of two hundred thousand dollars to fill the void leaving the Navy of the Republic, the lack of a steamship, perfectly warrior in its construction and weaponry. "
Despite all efforts, no funds were available until 1854, the year in which congressional authorization was given orders to the construction contract.
It was commissioned Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Government of France and Admiral Robert Winthrop Simpson to discuss the proposals and contracts for the construction of the ship.
Building started in December 1854 in the shipyard of Henry Pritchett, Northfleet, Kent County, England, under the supervision of Rear Admiral Robert Winthrop Simpson.
For D.S. of June 26, 1855 was called "Esmeralda" in memory of the frigate "Esmeralda", captured by Admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane in El Callao, on 5-6 November 1820. The theme "Glory and Victory," which served the same watchword of the division of the Cochrane approach.
Its hull was made of wood, covered in copper sheeting. Its length was 130 feet, beam 32 feet and depth 18 feet. He had four coal-fired boilers, two principal and two assistants, two horizontal condensing machines trunk, with cylinders placed from port to starboard, connected at right angles to the axis ciga ¼ enal, without gears, an output of 200 IHP that allowed him to develop up to 31 revolutions per minute and in good condition to 8 knots, a fireplace telescopic height adjustable at will, a structure for decoupling and lift the propeller when under sail.
Its propulsion system was mixed, and sailing equipment. Despite being corvette, frigate was his line. He had no electric lighting and used oil lamps they used even care. Their strength was 200 men.
He sailed from Falmouth, Cornwall County, commanded by Rear Admiral Robert Winthrop Simpson. Arrived at Valparaiso on November 7, 1856.
In the War against Spain, had a battery of 20 guns of 32 pounds flat.
Under the command of Juan Williams Rebolledo captured the "virgin de Covadonga" in the Naval Battle of Papudo, on 26 November 1865.
Between 1867 and 1868 was changed by 12-gun artillery lined Armstrong 40 pounds (RML) ** and 4 Whitworth smooth 40-pound (SML), * he changed the boiler and is fitted with an evaporator.
He remained in disarmament between 1870 and 1875.
On May 24, 1875 went aground in bay Jaime, Valparaiso, for purposes of a storm. It was refloat and reconditioned, changing the wood for the roof by obliqua.
In 1877 he traveled to Easter Island and Tahiti trip Midshipmen instruction.
It was gloriously buried on 21 May 1879 in the Battle of Iquique, immortalizing his name and his Commander, Commander, Arturo Prat Chacón.