The ship “Almanzora”

The ship Almanzora in La Palma. 1936.

Sailing the seas is the first of the romantic ideals. Let's remember “The Pirate's Song” by José de Espronceda, scanning the horizon in a borderless sea. If we can't do it physically, no one can deny us that dream. Sometimes the hard work of mine, in the bowels of the earth, it can lead to real adventures across the oceans.

The UK was rich in iron production, mined in the Pennine Mountains, as was also coal, what allowed him to champion the Industrial Revolution. The steel industry grew exponentially, sustained by the abundant mineral reserves and the inexhaustible flow of water that favors the climate of the British Isles. The large number of ports, navigable rivers and canals, they established an impressive activity of national and international trade. The bourgeoisie was getting rich by the handful so they soon set their goal in establishing mining production zones beyond their borders.. The British capital landed in the province of Almería in the last years of the 19th century, starting an activity of mining extraction and construction of infrastructures totally unknown in the Southeast of Spain, miserable and abandoned by the national oligarchies. Iron leads Almeria production in the first decade of the 20th century, with capital companies from the islandsBacares Iron andCabarga San Miguel to the head. The mineral from the Sierra de Los Filabres is loaded night and day on trains that seek departure to the Hornillo dock in Águilas to the fabulous British industries.

The commercial boom and the opening of naval routes that communicated practically the entire planet ratified the idea of ​​the Dutchman Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) that the oceans belonged to all of us, consolidating the concept of international waters in the 18th century. Large transatlantic companies begin to commission the construction of large ships in an almost frantic way, in order to strengthen its routes in this era of splendor.

With the building number 441 of the Harland shipyard& Wolff, and Belfast (North Ireland), the ship“Almanzora” it was the latest in a series of eight sister ships on the Royal Mail Lines Type A project - "Amazon"(1906), "Araguaya"(1906), “Avon”(1907), “Asturias”(1908), “Arlanza”(1912), “Andes”(1913), “Alcántara”(1914) and“Almanzora” (1914) – as indicated by D. Juan Carlos Díaz Lorenzo in his Doctoral Thesis for the University of La Coruña. The 19 November 1914, the brand new "Almanzora" slides down the same slipway on which the "Titanic" had been built two years earlier, accident that led to the provision of greater safety and evacuation measures for passengers, reason that was indicated by the investigation carried out, as the main cause of the "Titanic" tragedy.

The ship“Almanzora” had a weight of 15.551 gross tons and dimensions of 188.10 m overall length, 22,20 m of manga, 10,98 m of depth and 7.40 m of draft. This imposing naval monument was powered by four reciprocating triple expansion machines, with triple helix engines, that took steam from eight boilers and developed a power of 13.500 horses, maintaining a speed of 18 knots. It was capable of housing accommodation for 1.785 passengers, of which 400 did it in First Class, 230 Second Class and 760 Third class.

Although the UK had the largest naval fleet in the world, in September 1915, once the First World War started, was adapted for military uses, entering service as an auxiliary cruiser, incorporated into the 10th Cruiser Squadron fleet. After the war ended, it returned to the Belfast shipyards to be restored and rehabilitated for commercial use. With the return of peace, the 14 January 1919 it was returned to its status as a merchant ship. The 9 January 1920 he sailed from Southampton on his maiden voyage to the Argentine Republic and stopovers on his itinerary.

The 26 On March 1936, the "Almanzora" docked on its first and only port of La Palma in the port of Santa Cruz de La Palma., from Sierra Leone, with 200 tourists in transit and that same night he continued his trip to Lisbon and Souhtampton, in what seems his only stop in Spanish port, since we do not have information that affirms otherwise.

The winds of war again wave the flags of the powers, so in September 1939 the“Almanzora” would again be requisitioned by the Royal Navy for use as a troop carrier. He managed to stay afloat to be in the service of the British government after the end of World War II. It was destined to transport emigrants until 1947, when it was moored to orders on Cowes Road and a year later it was sold for scrapping to Blyth Iron& Steel Corporation. It was towed to the shore of Blyth where it was scrapped.

Later there have been other ships that wore the name of "Almanzora", such as the Minesweeper "Almanzora" of the Spanish Army (1954 – 1977), the wooden boat "Siempre Almanzora" (1989 -2010) based in Tazones (Asturias) and the Maritime Rescue Patrol “Río Almanzora” (active) The dry bed of our river always goes in search of the sea, even giving names to ships and boats. In the case of the unusual tribute to our land made by the magnificent British ship, served as a tribute to the efforts of all miners who spent their lives providing raw material for man's endeavor to dominate the world.

Francisco Javier Fernandez Espinosa