Business & Economy

Yavari, Titicaca’s forgotten iron ship

By Fernando Gimeno

Puno, Peru, Dec 3 (EFE).- Docked in the cold waters of Peru’s Lake Titicaca, which straddles  the border with Bolivia, is the world’s oldest operational iron ship, the Yavari.

But despite its rich historical value, the 160 year-old vessel has been abandoned by local authorities and is today no longer permitted to sail the waters.

“We are not supported by the Navy, the mayor or the regional government. No-one supports us. We are alone,” Máximo Flores, the Yavari’s chief engineer and caretaker, tells Efe.

The Victorian-era naval jewel, built by the British Shipbuilders, arrived in Peru in 1862, broken down into 2,766 pieces and two crankshafts.

It took the Peruvian navy six years to complete the ship.

“It was meant to take six months,” Flores says.

Yavari was finally launched in 1870 as a Peruvian Navy gunboat along with her sister ship the Yapura.

After years of serving as a merchant ship between Bolivia and Peru, Yavari was decommissioned in 1975 after a breakdown and left to slowly die in a corner of Puno port on Lake Titicaca.

Ten years later, a British woman by the name of Meriel Larken discovered the vessel and could not ignore the revenue  potential in one of the most impoverished regions of Peru.

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