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By the time when Philip V came to the throne, the Spanish Navy had 4 ships and 21 frigates — indeed an insufficient fleet for the task of protecting Spain’s vast empire. When José Patiño was appointed Quartermaster General of the Navy, ship construction began, as well as the works to build the kind of infrastructures needed to industrialize shipbuilding.

In 1717, José Patiño ordered the construction of the first modern shipyard in our country, Real Arsenal of La Carraca, which was followed in 1731 by Cartagena and in 1750 by Ferrol. During the first half of the 18th century, naval builders such as Gaztañeta and, later on, Autrán made first-rate ships of the line — largely in the shipyard of Guarnizo (Santander) — such as the 112-gun “Real Felipe”.

The Marquis of La Ensenada convinced Ferdinand VI to start working to reinforce the Fleet. For this purpose, La Ensenada commissioned Jorge Juan to find English craftsmen and shipbuilders, who introduced a new construction system based on the English method. Aware of the need to apply scientific knowledge to shipbuilding, Jorge Juan voiced it in his “Examen Marítimo” — a naval engineering treatise that would be translated into English and French.

It was in this context of rapid development of science that the Spanish Navy experienced the need to pursue an industrial approach to its Arsenals, passing from a type of shipbuilding based on craftsmen to the direct application of scientific knowledge to the design and production of ships. All this led to the creation in 1770 of the Corps of Marine Engineers and, later on, its Academy, by Charles III aided by the Secretary of the Navy Julián Arriaga. Today’s Corps of Naval Engineers came from that Corps of Marine Engineers and the Marine Artillery Corps.

On the other hand, the first instructions for Marine Artillery battalions date back to 1717. They were specialized brigades made up of General Corps officers. In 1763 the Royal Marine Artillery Brigades were created. In 1827, the Royal Marine Brigades was created by merging the Marine Infantry Corps and the Marine Artillery Corps, and it was assigned its own officers — no longer from the General Corps. In 1848, the Marine Infantry and Artillery Corps were again split in two.

In 1857, the Marine Artillery Brigades disappeared, as the Artillery Staff Corps of the Navy was created for optional service, made up by the officers of the former Brigades, and the troops were transferred to the Infantry. In the same year, an Artillery School was created with a view to fill the vacancies in the new Corps.

In 1943, the Artillery Corps of the Navy, then renamed as the Corps of Naval Weapons, began to be assigned all the engineering industrial work related to naval weapons under its ensuing reorganization. That very year, construction began of today’s Higher Technical School of Naval Weapons Engineers (ETSIAN) — the only one of its kind to date in Spain.

In 1967, the Corps of Engineers and the Corps of Naval Weapons, enlisting also officers from the General Corps trained in electricity and electronics, joined into the current Corps of Naval Engineers.


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