The gold fever in California had its highest peak in 1848. Between January 1 and June 30, 1849, more than 10,000 immigrants from Chile, Mexico, and Peru arrived in San Francisco, the most important port. Problems such as hunger and the spread of disease and criminals multiplied. The Peruvians not only were searching for gold, they were merchants and owners of boats. In Lima, Peru, the newspaper El Peruano published dramatic articles on this situation.
The Peruvian citizens who were facing difficulties in California asked President Ramón Castilla for his protection. Peru was able to send the brigantine warship "Gamarra" to the coasts of California and in 1848 the president allowed the warship to travel to San Francisco and stay for 10 months - giving the Peruvians the protection that they had requested. In response to the arrival of the “Gamarra”, the government of the United States of North America protested because it was an invasion in their territory. In the end, the American government acceded to the Peruvians’ requests for protection as it recognized the troubles they faced in this zone.
Overall, the warship helped the Peruvian merchant ships "Elisa", "Susana", "Mazzeppa", "Calderón", "San José", "Volante", "Andrea", "Bella Angelita" and "Atlanta". After this, it then made the return trip to Peru, proving its fabulous manufacture and extraordinary drive of its commander Captain Fragata Jose Maria Silva Rodriguez and all of its crew.
The warship was built for Peru in Trieste, Italy in 1843, weighing 415 tons and having a length of 77 feet, a birth of 24 feet and a draft of 14 feet. The ship was armed with 16 guns. The ship had a select crew of 136 men.