Spanish shipbuilding in the Pacific?

May 2019
429
Earth
Can anyone share a bit of info on how much shipbuilding Spain conducted in her Pacific colonies (west coast of the Americas and Philippines) between the 16th-18th centuries? I'm really only aware of Acapulco and its role in constructing some of the Manila galleons (the ones that weren't built in the Philippines anyway). How much other shipbuilding went on in this city, and was it only for Royal use (like the Manila galleons) or also private ownership? What about any other Pacific cities in Mexico/Central America/South America that had notable shipyards during this period? Any stats like yearly output, types of ships built, or average tonnage?

Many questions, not much knowledge. Hope I can get some answers :)
 

Tulius

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May 2016
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May 2019
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Thanks, unfortunately the language barrier is too much for me with academic articles like this, although I'll keep it bookmarked if I ever manage to learn Spanish :p

I've seen a few Spanish speakers around on this forum, so I was hoping one or two of them might have some details to share with monolingual plebs like myself...

Just a small note: The term Manila Galleon is often misleading, since the ships in the annual fleet weren’t made necessarily by Galleons.
Thanks, I'm aware of that, I was just using the most commonly accepted english-language term for this trading route, I'm not really aware of any other names for it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think at least some of the ships making this run during the 16th-17th century were actual galleons in the physical sense. I believe the majority were built in the Philippines, although I don't know exactly where. The internet tells me that at least eight of them were built in Acapulco, although I have no sources to back that up or dates/details for those ships... :/
 

johnincornwall

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Nov 2010
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Thanks, unfortunately the language barrier is too much for me with academic articles like this, although I'll keep it bookmarked if I ever manage to learn Spanish :p

I've seen a few Spanish speakers around on this forum, so I was hoping one or two of them might have some details to share with monolingual plebs like myself...
It's really difficult to study Spanish history without speaking Spanish, as 99.9% of it isn't translated into English (due to only a few of us studying it!!)

This book, which I have shared with Tulius before, about a rather unusual missionary called Cuateroni, suggests that any shipbuilding in the Phillipines was nothing more than theoretical, certainly by the 19th century - lucky to get one leaky frigate visit every couple of years from Spain. Phillipines was wild and tribal.


Cuarteroni y los piratos malayos

English wiki:


.and an Englsih book on him I've just found on search:

 
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May 2019
429
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It's really difficult to study Spanish history without speaking Spanish, as 99.9% of it isn't translated into English (due to only a few of us studying it!!)
Yes, you're absolutely right. Unfortunately not all of us have had the benefit of formal education in linguistics or history, so we have to rely on those who do ;)

This book, which I have shared with Tulius before, about a rather unusual missionary called Cuateroni, suggests that any shipbuilding in the Phillipines was nothing more than theoretical, certainly by the 19th century - lucky to get one leaky frigate visit every couple of years from Spain.
Maybe by the 19th century, but every source I've come across says that the majority of the Manila galleons during the early-modern era were built in the Philippines, in part due to superior timber available there and also because of the pool of cheap maritime labour there. Someone please correct me though if I've got this wrong, and Philippine shipbuilding for this route was "nothing more than theoretical".
 

Tulius

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May 2016
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Maybe by the 19th century, but every source I've come across says that the majority of the Manila galleons during the early-modern era were built in the Philippines, in part due to superior timber available there and also because of the pool of cheap maritime labour there. Someone please correct me though if I've got this wrong, and Philippine shipbuilding for this route was "nothing more than theoretical".

AS far as I know, you are not wrong. The Manila-Acaulpo route had lost its importance by the 19th century and ended in 1815, so probably it is natural to see the decadence that Cuarteron saw, after all he reached the Philipines after the end of the route.

From the article that I posted before:

“Felipe V demostró poseer, desde el inicio mismo de su reinado, una visión estratégica de carácter verdaderamente global. La primera medida administrativa de su reinado en el ámbito de la construcción naval estuvo dedicada al Pacífico, y precede cuando menos en una década a cualquiera de las dedicadas al Atlántico. La tensión política entre la corona y las élites mercantiles de México y Manila continuó operando, en el paso del siglo XVII al XVIII, como factor decisivo en la construcción naval en Filipinas. La legislación vigente, que autorizaba un porte máximo de tan sólo 200 toneladas por navío, había sido actualizada por el gobierno del último Habsburgo en 1697 y 1699, elevándolo a 300 (51). Durante esos años, los prácticos de la construcción naval en la bahía de Manila fijaron el porte de los navíos entre 800 y 900 toneladas. En 1702, Felipe V promulgó un nuevo reglamento que cancelaba los anteriores, aumentando el porte autorizado de los navíos a 500 toneladas, y también el valor de las mercancías transportadas desde Filipinas a Nueva España (52). Esto representó el mayor incremento oficial al tonelaje desde el establecimiento de la Carrera del Pacífico. Sin embargo, como había sucedido antes, este reglamento no fue obedecido. Los prácticos resolvieron que el porte mínimo no debía ser menor a 800 toneladas, argumentando que la duración de la travesía de Manila a Acapulco hacía necesario que dos terceras partes de la capacidad de carga estuviesen dedicadas al transporte de víveres y agua. Así, durante las primeras dos décadas del siglo XVIII, los astilleros filipinos continuaron botando, en flagrante desobediencia de la nueva legislación borbónica, navíos de 800 y más toneladas (53).” p.134

/

“Felipe V proved to possess, from the very beginning of his reign, a vision truly global strategic The first administrative measure of his reign in the field of shipbuilding was dedicated to the Pacific, and precedes at least one decade to any of those dedicated to the Atlantic. The political tension between the crown and the merchant elites of Mexico and Manila continued operating, in the passage from the 17th to the 18th century, as a decisive factor in the Naval construction in the Philippines. The current legislation, which authorized a maximum size of so only 200 tons per ship, had been updated by the government of the last Habsburg in 1697 and 1699, raising it to 300 (51). During those years, the practitioners of Shipbuilding in Manila Bay set the size of ships between 800 and 900 tons. In 1702, Felipe V promulgated a new regulation that canceled the previous ones, increasing the authorized size of ships to 500 tons, and also the value of the goods transported from the Philippines to New Spain (52). This represented the largest official increase in tonnage since the establishment of the Pacific Route. However, as had happened before, this regulation wasn’t obeyed. Practitioners resolved that the minimum size should not be less than 800 tons, arguing that the duration of the crossing from Manila to Acapulco it required that two thirds of the carrying capacity be dedicated to the transport of food and water. Thus, during the first two decades of the 18th century, Filipino shipyards continued to dump, in flagrant disobedience of the new Bourbon legislation, ships of 800 and more tons (53). ”p.134
 
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May 2019
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Thank you Tulius, that was interesting, and the sort of information I'm looking for. I don't suppose you know what sort of similar size limits might have been applied to shipbuilding in the Pacific ports of the Americas?
 

Tulius

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May 2016
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Thank you Tulius, that was interesting, and the sort of information I'm looking for. I don't suppose you know what sort of similar size limits might have been applied to shipbuilding in the Pacific ports of the Americas?
As I understood it, the limits were for the Pacific route, so they would be applied (in theory) both for Manila and Acapulco.
 
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May 2019
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The abstract to this article looks right up my street, I'll see if I can get access to it: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321715134_Early_sixteenth-century_shipbuilding_in_Mexico_Dimensions_and_tonnages_of_the_vessels_designed_for_Pacific_Ocean_navigation

"Shortly after the conquest of Mexico, Cortes ordered the construction of a second shipyard on the Pacific coast, known as El Carbón, in addition to the shipyard of Zacatula (Guerrero). The new shipyard was located in Tehuantepec (Oaxaca) and shipwrights were brought to Mexico to build and repair the ships for the spice trade with the Moluccas Islands, and even China and Japan. The ships built in this shipyard included the galleons San Vicente, San Lázaro, and Santa Agueda which were employed in trade with Peru, and the exploration of the Pacific coast of Mexico and California. These vessels were among the earliest ships built in the Pacific Ocean according to the European shipbuilding tradition. This paper examines the information provided by a document dated to 1535, in which the main dimensions, tonnages, and construction characteristics of three navíos (ships) built in El Carbón – San Lázaro, Santiago, and Santa Agueda – are provided. Interestingly, the linear units provided by the document are Portuguese goas instead of the expected Spanish codos (cubits), although the tonnages are expressed in Spanish pipas from Seville. Further, this paper compares the characteristics of these ships with other contemporary vessels built in the shipyards of Mexico for navigation in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, a comparative analysis is conducted to discover the similarities and differences between the designs and tonnages of the Pacific coast-built ships and those designed for the Atlantic fleets."
 
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Aug 2019
23
SPAIN
The main shipyard along the Pacific Coast of America was that of Guayaquil (Viceroyalty of Peru):
Guayaquil, Shipbuilding Industry | Encyclopedia.com
Another very important shipyard was the one at Realejo (Captaincy General of Guatemala), with access to better woods.
Realejo, a forgotten colonial port and shipbuilding centre in Nicaragua

Here, there is a paper that talks about the shipyards on the Pacific Coast of spanish America:
Jorge León Sanchéz. Los astilleros y la industria marítima en el Pacífico americano.
It´s in spanish, but you may find useful the list of shipyards, Annex I (starts at page 68), and of certain known ships builded there, (Annex II).
 
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