Capitán Prat II - The first warship in the world with electric motor artillery

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Capitán Prat II


The Capitan Prat II (called 2° because previously there was another ship called Capitan Prat that was finally sold to Japan renaming it “Tsukushi”) was a Chilean armored cruiser. Captain Prat is the greatest naval hero of Chile, who gave his life at the young age of 31 during the Pacific War where Chile fought against the Peru-Bolivia allies. He died on May 21, 1879 during the Battle of Iquique after boarding the Peruvian Huascar monitor. Therefore, several ships in the history of Chile would be named in honor of him. On August 22, 1887, the Chilean National Congress approved a law and a budget for the modernization of the Chilean fleet with the acquisition of a new and powerful foreign-built armored ship. The contract for the construction of the Chilean battleship was announced in all the shipyards of Europe drawing the attention of British, French and German shipbuilders. The contract for Capitan Prat II was awarded to the French shipyard Societé Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée on the Seyne, on 18 April 1889 at a cost of £391,000. The hull was placed in slipways in May 1889 and launched on December 20, 1890, being commissioned to the Chilean fleet in 1891 and arriving in the country in 1893. Capitan Prat II received worldwide positive reviews from naval engineers, since it was seen as an excellent example of combining firepower, protection, and speed. It was advertised in various newspapers and naval magazines such as:

“The most powerful warship in service to a South American government and of any warship in the hands of the United States.”

Characteristics of Capitán Prat II

The Capitán Prat was a 6,900-ton armored cruiser that could develop 19 knots (35 km/h) with forced draft and 17 knots (31 km/h) with normal draft with a power of 12,000 HP, which for the time was a speed Quite decent considering that it was a heavy ship, in terms of armament it had four 240 mm (9.4 inch) Canet guns and eight 120 mm (4.7 inch) Canet rapid-firing guns. The 240 mm artillery was electrically powered, as were the elevators that brought the ammunition from the magazines, which for the time was revolutionary, becoming the first warship in the world to have this feature. In addition, for short defense against torpedoes, a battery of six guns, all 6-pounders, four 3-pounders and ten 1-pounders, plus five Maxim machine guns, was designated. The armored cruiser Prat could launch 18-inch torpedoes through tubes located on the waterline.

The armor was thick, the hull having a 12-inch (305 mm) Creusot steel side armor amidships. It was also protected by an armored strip 2.3 meters high that extended 0.7 meters below the waterline. The deck had 3 in (76 mm) armor plating. The towers had protection of 10.5 inches (267 mm) on the sides and 2 inches on the roof (51 mm). The barbettes of the 240 mm guns were protected with 4-inch (102 mm) thick steel and those of the 120 mm guns with 2-inch (51 mm) steel.

Interests of other countries to buy the armored cruiser

All these characteristics made it a very interesting armored cruiser for its time and several powers would try to buy it. In March 1898, just before the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the United States was interested in buying Captain Prat II to reinforce its fleet against the Spanish navy. However, the negotiations failed and the ship remained in Chile. Another purchase offer came in 1903, before the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese government sought to purchase the Captain Prat II and the protected cruiser Esmeralda, along with other South American warships. Japan only managed to close the purchase agreement for the Esmeralda cruise ship, calling it Izumi.

The modernizations of 1909-1910

By 1909 it was decided to modernize Captain Prat II since it was becoming outdated in terms of capacities compared to other more modern Chilean ships. The armored cruiser was refitted in 1909, when 12 Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers were fitted, increasing her speed to 19.5 knots (36 km/h). The height of the chimneys was also increased.

Capitán Prat II with his new taller chimneys from Babcock & Wilcox



Capitán Prat II during the first world war

During World War I, Capitan Prat II escorted the German East Asia Squadron during its resupply of coal in the port of Valparaíso in November 1914, prior to the naval battle of the Malvinas Islands.

The German East Asia Squadron in Valparaíso in November 1914; Capitán Prat II is on the far right


End of service

In 1920 it was disarmed by virtue of the Pact between Chile and Argentina that put an end to the naval race between both countries. However, the ship returned to service again and remained in active service until 1926 as a floating defense. Between 1928 and 1930 was used as a submarine support ship, and in 1935 was decommissioned and used as a training ship for the Naval School and engineers, remaining in the navy’s inventory until 1942, when was sold for scrap.


  • Crew:
    • 480
  • Armament:
    • Primary: 4 x 1 - 240/36 Canet M1887
      • Max elevation angle: +12°
      • Projectile mass: 170 kg
      • Muzzle Velocity: 740 m/s (in Chilean tests)
      • Shooting range: 10.1 km
      • Fire rate: 2 shots/minute
      • Armour piercing: 351 mm (Gaijin calculator)
    • Secondary armament:
      • 4 x 2 - 120/45 Canet M1887
        • Max elevation angle: +15°
        • Projectile mass: 21 kg
        • Muzzle Velocity: 800 m/s (in Chilean tests)
        • Shooting range: 9.7 km
        • Fire rate: 6 shots/minute
        • Armour piercing: 187 mm (Gaijin calculator)
      • 6 x 1 - 57/40 Hotchkiss
        • Max elevation angle: 21°
        • Projectile mass: 2.7 kg
        • Muzzle Velocity: 538 m/s
        • Shooting range: 6.5 km
        • Fire rate: 20 shots/minute
      • 4 x 1 - 47/40 Hotchkiss
        • Max elevation angle: 21°
        • Projectile mass: 1.5 kg
        • Muzzle Velocity: 574 m/s
        • Shooting range: 5.9 km
        • Fire rate: 20 shots/minute
      • 10 x 1 - 37/20 Hotchkiss
        • Max elevation angle: 11°
        • Projectile mass: 0.5 kg
        • Muzzle Velocity: 457 m/s
        • Shooting range: 3.2 km
        • Fire rate: 25 shots/minute
    • Anti-aircraft armament: 5 × 1 - 37mm Maxim
    • Torpedo launcher: 4 - 450 mm/5m (1 bow, 2 beam, 1 stern)
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 100.0 m (pp)
    • Beam: 18.5 m
    • Draft: 6.65 m
    • Standard displacement 6,230 long tons
    • Full displacement: 7,000 long tons
  • Maneuverability :
    • Propulsion: 2 Shaft HTE, 5 cylindrical boilers, 12.000 hp
    • Max. speed: 19,5 knots (36 km/h)
    • Endurance: 4600 nm (8 kts)
  • Armor: Creusot Steel
    • Protection of the upper central belt: 150 mm
    • Center belt protection: 300-100 mm
    • Protection of the lower central belt: 200 mm
    • Bow belt protection: 125 mm
    • Aft belt protection: 150 mm
    • Lower bow and stern belt protection: 100 mm
    • Protection of the upper deck: 50-15 mm
    • Protection of the transversal bulkheads: 150 mm
    • Citadel roof protection: 80 mm
    • Protection of the transversal bulkheads of the citadel: 80 mm
    • Protection of the main towers: 275-50 mm
    • Protection of the secondary towers: 50 mm
    • Barbette protection: 275-100 mm
    • Bridge protection: 75-50 mm






Special thanks to @COLDOWN who helped me a lot by sharing all the necessary information to make this publication as complete as possible.

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