Its construction was authorized by Supreme Decree of June 30, 1852, signed by the President of the Republic Manuel Montt and the Minister of the Navy José Francisco Gana and in which it was authorized "to invest up to the sum of two hundred thousand pesos to fill the gap that leaves in the Military Navy of the Republic, the lack of a steam ship, perfectly warrior in its construction and armament ".
In spite of all the efforts made, the funds were not available until 1854, the year in which, with the authorization of Congress, orders were given to contract the construction.
Vice-Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Government of France and Rear Admiral Roberto Winthrop Simpson were commissioned to study the proposals and contracts for the construction of the ship.
Construction began in December 1854 in the shipyards of Enrique Pritcher, Northfleet, Kent County, England, under the supervision of Rear Admiral Mr. Robert Winthrop Simpson.
By D.S. of June 26, 1855 was named "Esmeralda" in memory of the frigate "Esmeralda", captured by Admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane in El Callao, November 5-6, 1820. He carried the motto "Gloria y Victoria", the same one that served as a password to the Cochrane boarding division.
On September 18, 1855, he threw himself into the water. Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada and Mrs. Tránsito Yrarrázabal de Guzmán were his sponsors. It cost $ 217,461. <
His helmet was made of wood, lined with copper sheets. Its length was 130 feet, 32 feet and 18 feet. It had four coal boilers: two main and two auxiliary, two horizontal trunk condensing machines, with cylinders placed from port to starboard, connected at right angles to the crankshaft, without gears, with a power of 200 IHP that allowed it to develop up to 31 revolutions per minute and give in good conditions 8 knots, a telescopic chimney, adjustable its height at will, a structure to uncouple and lift the propeller when sailing.
Its propulsion system was mixed, to machines and to sail. Despite being a corvette, his rig was a frigate. It lacked electric lighting and used lamps that used Gallipolli oil. His crew was 200 men.
He sailed from Falmouth, Cornuailles County, commanded by Rear Admiral Roberto Winthrop Simpson. He arrived in Valparaíso on November 7, 1856.
In the War against Spain, it had an artillery of 20 guns of 32 smooth pounds.
Under the command of Juan Williams Rebolledo captured the "Virjen de Covadonga" in the Naval Combat of Papudo, on November 26 in 1865.
Between 1867 and 1868 the artillery was exchanged for 12 Armstrong 40-pounder (R.M.L.) ** and 4 Forty-pound 40-pound (S.M.L.) * guns, the boilers were changed and an evaporator was installed.
It remained in disarmament between 1870 and 1875.
On May 24, 1875, Jaime, Valparaíso, was affected by the effects of a storm. It was brazen and reconditioned, changing the wood of its roof by Chilean oak.
In 1877 he traveled to Easter Island and Tahiti on the instruction trip of Midshipman.
It was sunk gloriously on May 21, 1879, in the Naval Combat of Iquique, immortalizing its name and that of its Commander, Frigate Captain, Arturo Prat Chacón.