Jurien de la Gravière

France (1899)
Protected Cruiser

A “tin-clad cruiser”

The term was used often to describe rival Italian and French cruisers of the interwar, sacrificing all for speed. But the French cruiser Jurien de la Gravière twenty years before was at the same time the last French “protected” cruiser and one of the thinnest built. The cruiser was named after Edmond Jurien de la Gravière (and his father, Pierre Roch), an admiral who served through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Construction started on November 15, 1897 at Lorient, launching occurred on June 26, 1899, but commission was reported to 1903, as sea trials dragged over a year due to construction errors that had to be fixed in turn.

Design

The hull of the ship was narrow, nearly 1/10, and the bow had as short ram while the stem was pinted. The overall waterline was very thin and narrow. She was given four funnels far apart to serve the twenty-four boilers and two small military masts. The main artillery comprised eight Modèle 1893 164.7 mm guns, of which two were in shielded centerline mounts fore and aft, the remaining six in sides casemate mounts. The rest of light artillery model 1884 and 1885 was placed in various spots to hit incoming TBs. The 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes were submerged. Armour was as follows: The deck was protected by 35–55 mm (1–2 in) with 55–65 mm (2–3 in) slopes, the Conning tower was 100 mm (4 in) thick, the Gun shields were 70 mm (3 in) and casemates: 45 mm (2 in) and ammunition tubes 45 mm (2 in).

Profile from Janes
Profile from Jane’s

Active carrer

Completed in 1903, the Jurien de la Gravière was the last of the so-called “protected” cruisers of the French navy. It was narrower and lighter than the previous ones, though fairly close in design to the Guichen. Construction was too light, vibrations and not very manoeuvrable, and during the Great War he served, and on August 16, 1914, participated in the hunting of the Austro-Hungarian destroyer Ulan. In 1916 she was assigned to Admiral Boué de lapeyrère’s squadron during naval operations on the southern coast of Turkey, bombing enemy positions, then blockading Greece until 1917 before finishing in Syria. She was removed from the lists in 1922.

Links

List of French Torpedo Cruisers
Profile on Shipbucket
Forum Page about the Jurien (Fr)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_cruiser_Jurien_de_la_Gravi%C3%A8re
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1860-1906.

Jurien class specifications

Dimensions 137 x 15 x 6.30 m
Displacement 5,595 tonnes FL
Crew 463
Propulsion 3 screws, 24 DuTemple boilers, 17,400 hp
Speed 22.9 knots (42.4 km/h; 26.4 mph), Range 6,150 nmi (11,390 km; 7,080 mi)
Armament 8 x 162, 10 x 47 QF, 6 x 37, 2 TT SM 457 mm
Armor 45 mm max.

Gallery

Jurien de la Gravière
Illustration of the Jurien de la Gravière

Jurien de la Gravière
Illustration of the Jurien de la Gravière in pre-war colors

Jurien prewar
Small photo of the Jurien prewar in civilian colors

Jurien 3d model by WOW
Jurien 3d model by WOW

Battle of Santiago de Cuba (july, 3, 1898)

Engraving of the Battle of Santiago
Spanish Armada vs US Navy

Cuba’s decisive naval battle

The Battle of Santiago de Cuba, was seen by some as a naval “execution squad”, as US ships (with large firepower superiority) just awaited the Spanish squadron to leave and force its way out of Santiago’s bay. Some duelling occurred nevertheless, but the fate of the Spanish fleet in the Caribbean was decided this 3th of July, and all but precipitated the end of the war (and of the Spanish Empire).

Forces in Metropolitan Spain

By the time the war erupted over Cuba (and the sparkle which was the explosion of the Maine), Spain had its only ironclads and battleships, the Pelayo, and older Vitoria and Numancia in drydocks at La Seyne at Toulon, while the Mendez Nunez was in reserve, as well as the coastal battery Duque de Tetuan (1874) and the training ship Puigcerda, a monitor from 1874. The Emperador Carlos V and the Princesa de Asturias has been freshly accepted into service but were stationed at Cadiz and Cartagena, carrying out patrols during the war. Most of the torpedo boats were also stationed in Spain.


Author’s map of the battle of Santiago

Cervera’s squadron

In Cuban waters, the colonial squadron at the time of declaration of war was composed of a few minor units, while a strong squadron was just being assembled at the Cape Verde Islands, headed by Admiral Ocquendo. He commanded the armoured cruisers Vizcaya, Infanta Maria Teresa, Cristobal Colon, the destroyers Furor, Terror and Pluto, under the command of the best Spanish admiral, the respected Pascual Cervera y Topete. This officer and Gentleman, 59, was a former minister of the navy with 47 years under his belt, notably in Cuba that he knew well, as well as in the Far East. Cultured, polite, competent, courageous, he was appreciated by the court but much more by his men.


Spanish armoured cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa

At the time of declaration of war, Cervera proposed to Madrid that the fleet waited in the Canary Islands, as the U.S. Navy would not fail to track the coastal metropolitan areas, combining his forces with the squadron of Cartagena, sent as reinforcement. He planned to take in a pincer the “Yankees” and inflict them a crushing defeat. All his commanders had approved the plan. But to his dismay he learned that his orders were instead to defend Cuba as quickly as possible. He then departed in the same sad resolution than Admiral Sir Charles Cradock, sent to sacrifice against Spee’s superior ships off the Falklands.

He knew well that on paper his forces were outclassed by number and tonnage by the American ships, compounded by the fact they suffered from a poor supply of shells, had breech blocks issues left unaddressed, lack of maintenance (no fooling) such as Vizcaya could barely sustain 12 knots, not to mention the Cristobal Colon, which was so fresh she still then missed her main guns.

Cristobal Colon
Profile of the Cristóbal Colón prior to the battle. Notice the forward turret is there, but the gun is absent. A dummy one was fitted at the rear. It would have been one 254 mm (10 in)/45 cal. gun. Secondary armament comprised still two 8 in (203 mm)/45 cal. guns
and fourteen single 152 mm (6 in) guns. She has been sold shortly after completion to the Spanish Navy at Genoa on 16 May 1897.

Departure

Nonetheless the fleet leaved St. Vincent on April 29, 1898. A long detour which -it was believed- the squadron would run out quickly from coal, therefore the Americans thought it would rather join the fortified port of Puerto Rico first. Meanwhile on May 1, far away in Cavite (Manila Bay) in the Philippines, an American fleet sank at anchor, by surprise, the Spanish Pacific fleet. Back in the Carribean, Sampson knew he must also necessarily score points, even if only for the sport. But Cervera’s squadron was a far more serious prey than the collection of old colonial gunboats in the Far East. On May, 4, Admiral Sampson tried to intercept Cervera on its way to Cuba. On May 11, Sampason arrived at San Juan, and began to shell the harbor, thinking Cervera was there already. Faced with the evidence of his absence, he decided to sail back to Key West. He was to coal in Martinique and headed for Curacao.


Battleship USS Iowa

Then he returned to Key West where he was joined by Schley’s squadron on May 18. Key West was not far from Havana, so it seems unlikely that Cervera would try to risk lifting the blockade. It was believed the squadron would settle in the south of Cuba, to be anchored under the protection of the fortified ports in this area, at Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. The combined American squadron, now under the command of Schley sailed to Cienfuegos. American confidence in the outcome of the battle ahead is such that the US Navy squadron is surrounded by a picturesque array of luxury yachts attending a “picnic” in case. However some of these Yachts has been equipped after requisition, such as USS Gloucester, sharing his part in the heart of the battle.


USS Brooklyn (ACR3), perhaps the most recognizable and famous American armoured cruiser of that era.

Arrival and deployment

The 22, at Cienfuegos, the eye in the telescope, Admiral Schley observed the apple mast emerging from the hills hiding the harbor, judging how many ships are present, but failed to identify them formally. Are they those of Cervera? The next day a messenger joined the squadron with a message confirming Sampson’s order to stay put. A few hours later, he received another one ordering to sail quickly to Santiago, as rumors indicated the Spanish Admiral was anchored.

But Schley then still felt that the presence of cervera at Cienfuegos was still possible. On 25, Sampson’s cruiser arrived with the first copy of the message, reiterating the order to steam to the port of Santiago, that he hid reluctantly. At dusk, he learned by the commander that Cubans resistants signalled by three shafts of light from the window of a house near to the harbour the Spanish fleet was there. Schley received later formal confirmation from other sources. He could then no longer remain in doubt.


Another view of the USS Brooklyn, the battle’s hero

Coaling and preparing for battle

Schley could not intervene however right away: He was to wait for Weather conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and his coaling fleet still struggling to separate, like the Merrimack still tied due to serious problems of boilers. At 20 nautical miles from Santiago, he sent three ships to try to see the Spanish fleet. They come back empty. Schley decided nevertheless, fearful of falling short of coal decided to return to Key West to refuel, to the dismay and wrath of the Secretary of the Navy for whom that move confined to insubordination. He sent an urgent telegram on May, 27 classified “top priority” by which he intimated Schley to stay.


Idealized painting of the battle, showing Schley’s brooklyn leading the line. In reality this clean “battle line” duel never happened.

Fortunately, the admiral gave up on the idea to leave the area, even before receiving the telegram, as the sea calmed down, and the coaler Merrimack eventually be able to deliver his payload and exit. He the took all his squadron on May 29, and parked his battleline in front of the mouth of the harbor. He could see from there the glow of sunset falling on the Cristobal Colon and planned action for the next day at dawn.

First shots on the Cristobal Colon

As planned the next day, American ships opened fired and the duel was rapidly unequal but yet, shells missed. The Colon escaped and joined the rest of the squadron, to be placed directly under the protection of Santiago’s forts. The day after, Sampson joined Schley’s squadron.

Santiago’s siege

U.S. forces began a fully-fledged siege of the harbour. Cervera had its only exit cut off, but still had the possible double cover of darkness and bad weather. But still, the sea remains of oil. For their part the two admirals do not intended to force the Bay: Large batteries commanding the mouth of the harbor and approaches were a real threat, not to mention long-range batteries in the fortified port itself, and mines laid across the mouth. On the other hand, they could wait for General Schaft that landed nearby, aimed at taking the city and harbour with his troops and capturing forts and batteries, forcing Cervera to leave the harbor.

Meanwhile Sampson, who hoisted his mark on the Armoured Cruiser New York, just developed an ingenious plan thanks to the inspiration of RP Hobson, a naval lieutenant and brilliant engineer: They were to send the old Merrimack through the mouth, lights off, machines shut, helped by the currents and momentum. Then the steamer would to be scuttled after maneuvering across the entrance and firmly anchored with her carefully placed charges set to detonate and scuttle her. Thus, she was to cut off any possibility of retirement for Cervera’s squadron.


Illustration of the battle.

The operation was conducted on the night of June 2-3, but proved a failure: The steamer, still hampered by boiler pressure problems was poorly operated, and eventually scuttled but into a position and place still allowing Cervera to escape. For his part, the latter had in a few days carried ashore most of his sailors with all weapons available to strengthen lines of defense to the rear against Schaft, which was approaching dangerously. Before news of the American commando arrived, “Captain General” Blanco, governor, and commander in chief of Cuba, ordered Cervera to leave the harbor in force, yet still unmanned and under-supplied.

Cervera’s options

Cervera studied his (bleak) possibilities: Exiting by night was to take the risk of managing his way across in the narrow mouth of course and always possible collision with the Merrimack. After careful consideration, he decided to sail on Sunday, July 3rd, at nine in the morning hours, when traditional religious services in the United States Navy took place (Yamamoto had this detail in mind years later when planning his attack on Hawaii). From Saturday two o’clock in the afternoon, boilers had to be set in motion while the sailors stationed at the front lines in the back of the town would return urgently to prepare the ships to depart.

Cristobal Colon
Cristobal Colon. A recent armoured cruiser built in Italy (Garibaldi class), she was so new that the main battery has not yet even been installed.

Cervera’s squadron strength

The Spanish squadron consisted of the cruisers Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya, Infanta Maria Teresa, and Cristóbal Colón plus Villaamil’s destroyers Pluton and Furor. The 7,000 tons cruisers were not heavily armored, nor armed at least compared to the US battleships. With At best they displayed two 11 inch guns and ten 5.5 inch guns (Infanta Teresa Class) each. In addition the condition of the ships was rather poor, The breech mechanisms were dangerously faulty, boilers were in need of repair, some even needed intensive fouling treatment in drydock. The best protected was the Italian-built armored cruiser Cristobal Colon, but she still lacked her main battery, dummy guns being placed. Crews were also poorly-trained, mostly in gunnery drills, concentrating on rapid fire at regular intervals.

The Battle

Cervera leaves the bay

On July 3, at 9:00, as expected, the Spanish squadron set off. Watchmen in the flagship of Commodore Schley (USS Brooklyn), saw multiple smoke plumes rising from behind the hills and gave the alarm. Schley sent the small and fast yacht Vixen to inquire about the Spanish preparation state in case of a sortie. But despite his precautions, Schley had to acknowledge also the disappearance at dawn of the cruisers New Orleans and Newark, left coaling in Guantanamo, escorted by the battleship Massachusetts. This by the way unlocked a new massive opportunity in the West.


USS New York, Sampson’s flagship. A powerful armoured cruiser by 1890s standard.

Sampson, on USS New York, sailed from his position to “close the gap.” The latter and the Brooklyn were now the only two units that can effectively intercept Cervera’s squadron, at both ends of the pincer. At 9:35 on a glassy sea and bright sunshine, Cervera on board Infanta Maria Teresa followed the pilot guiding his way to the mouth. His ships followed at intervals of 7 minutes. Brooklyn’s watchman saw the plume of smoke moving behind the hill, closing to the entrance and gave the alarm, quickly confirmed by Schley himself. Battle flags were drawn to the apple of the masts, but Sampson on USS New York had then disappeared from view and was not informed.

The duel starts

The duel began between Maria Teresa and the battleship Iowa, across the mouth. It was almost an execution: The Spanish admiral ship, going at full speed, could only present part of her front battery and a few pieces in barbettes, while the squadron formed in a semicircle presented almost all its broadside. The whole horizon barred with black silhouettes which could explode with multiple lights -followed by detonations at any moment. Fortunately for Cervera, there was not a breath of wind, and thick white smoke partially hid her ship and he fired. He fired a second time, but missed despite the closing distance. At seven miles east of Santiago, Sampson had an interview with the General when one of his watchers signaled the white fumes of the Spanish guns. He spotted the Teresa and realized that the time had come. He ordered his his huge cruiser to turn for “crossing the T” of Cervera’s line of battle. At this distance it was still impossible however to predict if Cervera would escape east or west.

Cervera’s chivalrous diversion

Cervera also quickly studied his options and decided to practicing one of these chivalrous gestures which was the pride of the Spanish crown: Heading due west towards the Brooklyn, he would try to ram her, allowing the rest of the squadron to respond effectively to the Americans and escape to the east, apparently empty of USS New York, as none were able to follow them. As expected, the subterfuge worked and the battleship Texas, very close to the Brooklyn, believed that Cervera was to sail due west, and began his maneuver, dragging the rest of the squadron. The Brooklyn was the only one that effectively turned her prow east (by mistake, not prescience!).

Through the fog generated by the greasy smoke lingering and spreading to the surface due to lack of wind, one of the watchmen of USS Texas suddenly spotted with amazement the emerging white bow of a cruiser, adorned with the stripped coat of arms and Eagle. He shouted “Brooklyn straight ahead!” and thanks to the presence of mind of the mate who manned the bar on “full astern”, and the readiness of the helmsman, the Texas avoided a fatal collision…


Wreck of the Vizcaya

Leaving the bay, Cervera saw the Brooklyn coming eastward with him over the side. Declining a ramming, he then confirmed his early heading west to deceive the US Fleet. Penetrating deeper into the American fire square, he drew all the shots, while Colon and Vizcaya started to escape by shaving the coast. Banking heavily, Maria Teresa was hit by a large caliber that destroyed the bridge, killing all present officers including the captain. Cervera then took personal command of the ship which began to burn, fire spreading dangerously into the corridors at the rear, next to the ammunition bunkers, which could not be drowned. Cervera decided to save his men while allowing some hope to continue the fight from the shore: He turned his ship towards the beach hoping to ran aground. The American ships still could not follow their boilers being only half of their maximum heat or even cold. These same measures ordered the night before to prevent the ships falling short of coal weighed heavily on the action.

Cruiser Almirante Oquendo is next

Situation of the cruiser Almirante Oquendo then changed dramatically. The cruiser, just passing the harbour’s mouth and was left alone until then. But because fire subsided on the Maria Teresa, now helpless and burning like a torch, they pointed their sights on the unfortunate cruiser. The Ocquendo fired back, but all her guns were silenced one after the other. After less than half an hour, officers were all killed as more than half of her, and she ran aground in turn, less than a mile from Teresa. But at that precise moment of impact at 10:30, her hull was so battered that she that broke in two in a tremendous explosion.


Spanish Cruiser Almirante Oquendo- Wikipedia

Spanish destroyer’s turn

Finally, the hull was achieved by fire from destroyers Furor, Terror, followed by Pluto. The first two escaped, zig-Zagging between high geysers of large calibers, but the Pluto received an impact of large caliber (330 mm) on its rear deck, destroying its engine room and distorting her rudder. Veering sharply to the coast, she almost immediately struck a reef, destroying its bow. Fortunately her crew jumped out and swam to shore in minutes. The irony of all this was these were the world’s first practical destroyers, due to Captain’s Villaamil vision, but they never went into action as planned.


Furor chased by USS Iowa. The Furor class, creation of Aug. Villaamil was arguably the first purpose-built destroyer worldwide.

Meanwhile for the Furor, situation was not better: First impact on the bridge killed officers and the bar went stuck at its highest incidence just when ordered a tight turn. Like the Bismarck years later, the unfortunate destroyer began to turn around, turning into a sitting duck. Unable to replicate with its inadequate guns, she was quickly evacuated, just before another shell 330 mm landed in the engine room, sending pieces of boilers brought to white into the blue. Water rushed immediately and the Furor sank in an instant. In thirty minutes, two cruisers and two destroyers has been destroyed. Schley could savor his victory by advance.

Vizcaya’s deperate duel

The kill board however was not yet fully completed: The USS Brooklyn, followed by Texas and Oregon were chasing the slow Vizcaya, closing along the coast. Battleship Iowa and the yacht Gloucester fished survivors, leaving Indiana behind, still heating up. A tremendous artillery duel began at close range (900 meters) between the Vizcaya, protecting Colon’s escape, and USS Brooklyn, sandwiching her as in Nelson’s finest hours. At such distance, all guns erupted, even machine guns crackled with rage. For a bit Schley and his crew felt their own finest time has come.

Regular exercises of American gunners began to bear fruit. While reloading slower because the officers asked them to take time before fine-tuning the sights, their hits multiplied to the point that a sailor was baffled not to see any white plumes misses. For their part the Spanish gunners were a little faster, and had the advantage of a thicker hull armor. But 1898 was the only fiscal year where gunnery practices were curtailed, leading to some imprecision in return fire. At one point, the Brooklyn suffered a 280 mm shell that penetrated the hull just below the bridge but did not explode, injuring two sailors superficially. A moment later another shell decapitated a gunnery lookout standing in the sight top.

But the next moment, a hit at the stern of the Vizcaya blew the torpedo tube and the ship began to burn furiously, pouring blinding smoke on the unfortunate gunners. The fate of the vessel was sealed. Slowly but surely all her guns were put out of action, so much so that after a while, there were thoughts of preparing the ship for ramming, or beaching the ship, like the other two. The commander was seriously wounded, the second took over, and after a quick “vote” with the officers and men presents to see if something more could be done for the crown and honor of Spain, it was decided to ground the cruiser onto the beach.

Vizcaya’s men ordeal

Seeing the ship heading towards the coast, the Brooklyn and Texas ceased fire. Texas’s crew was rejoicing, starting a song of victory when Captain Philips ordered them to be quiet, saying “Do not sing, boys, those poor devils are dying”… Indeed, from there they could see small red and white spots in a macabre and sobering picture of scorched and twisted corpses littering the bridges, sometimes emerging from open wounds of the hull. The Vizcaya was transformed into a floating hell, with a continuous rumbling in the background. The fire became so intense masts began to writhe under the heat. Planks of the bridge that did not burn gave way, opening the buckling mess of steel raised to red by pressure. The entire ship’s belly was just a huge boiler vomiting tortured men and parts from all its reddish orifices.


The Vizcaya explodes, hull split in two

But for the survivors ordeal was not over: Jumping to the water knowing what would be the pain of a salty water in contact with their burned flesh and open wounds, they had to remain afterwards immersed intermittently to escape gunfire from Cuban resistant firing from ashore or attending the show passively, capturing those washed ashore. They eventually decided to go after the representatives of the hated regime, swimming painfully to shore, yet inflicting them another horrible death with machetes and guns. The scene was such that Commander Evans, from USS Iowa, who had launched all his boats to pick up survivors, sent one with an officer voicing ahead to discourage Cubans to continue their killing, under the threat of a volley of his large guns.


Gun on Vizcaya’s wreck

Spanish sailors seeing the massacre playing ashore began to turn back for the rescuing Americans despite their exhaustion, but had to contend with sharks, attracted and maddened by the smell of blood, barring their way back and striking at random. This horror went to the very doorsteps of the American boats: The first master of Iowa, Jeffrey Davis, recalled giving a hand to an officer, heavily burned and calling for help. As he leaned to grab his forearm, he saw a gray spinning close to the board, and next fell back into the boat, with the trunk of the unfortunate: A shark just took the rest.

Cristobal Colon’s fate

The Cristobal Colon, meanwhile, seemed to left his pursuers. She was now chased by the Brooklyn, whose machines were still not yet fully heated, the Oregon, whose crew redoubled efforts. Finally, Texas, to the rear, continued on her course. The hunt lasted for two hours, to the point the Cuban coast was about 110 Kilometers away. The Colon was making then twenty knots and distances stretched, but soon a fateful decision was made to spare coals stock and reduce consumption.

Schley was jubilant: The Spanish cruiser seemed to put more miles between his own ships and her, but he knew that soon the coast’s shape would oblige the Iberian cruiser to change course, this time closing the gap with her pursuers. On the bridge of Colon, the commander studied his options. He knew full well that in one hour his exhausted drivers, toiling in the hell of the engine room (over 50° at full steam) would have ran off Asturias coal and commence feeding the local low quality coal instead. As expected, at nine in the evening, while the coast was starting to get closer, the smoke plume still visible on the horizon from USS Oregon changed imperceptibly. Slowly but surely, they began to distinguish a shiny black bow with hints of red in the setting sun, until large main guns were ready to bear, and later close enough that the 203 mm from the Spanish ship came also within range. The final duel between the two vessels began.

wreck of Admiral Ocquendo
Wreck of he Almirante Ocquendo

End duel

On the sixth salvo, the Spanish ship was now cornered to the coast which now barring the way. The Captain decided not to be caught: Despite honors commanded, he noticed a group of reefs in order to ran aground her ship, then scuttle her. It was done and sailors and officers quietly gained their boats and aimed to the shore, waiting to surrender to the Americans. When Admiral Sampson arrived at full speed on the USS New York, it was all over. He could only watch the wreck of the Colon marking out the side, ripped, twisted, whence torrents of thick curls. He could also see the bridge crowded with men from the USS Indiana and Iowa, a ballet of boats pulling bodies tossed like puppets on black water.


USS Oregon leaving California to join the Caribbean in 1898, nicknamed “the bulldog of the fleet” she was the fastest and most recent battleship of the US Navy.

In the whole Cervera’s squadron, only the small, but aptly named Terror had survived. The Battle of Santiago de Cuba was over. The Spanish Empire not only had lost the same day his best admiral, taken prisoner along with 1600 men and 70 officers but had to deplore 323 dead or missing and 151 injured, the loss of the best fleet, and its possessions in the Caribbean, this, a few months after the fall of the Philippines. Only a handful of the crews successfully joined the lines defending the city. The Americans had lost one officer and deplored nine minor injuries and one seriously. Santiago will fall on July 17, resisting over two weeks against much superior forces.

Wreck of the Almirante Ocquendo in 1899.
Wreck of the Almirante Ocquendo in 1899.

Epilogue

The battle’s lessons were numerous, although the whole affair was very much one-sided, between a cornered admiral with inadequate ships trying to escape a veritable “execution squad” of battleships and armoured cruisers blockading Santiago’s bay. It showed some difference in gunnery practices, but probably the most intriguing fact was the postwar Sampson-Schley Controversy. The whole point among naval officers was to determine which commanding officer deserved credit for the victory. When Sampson’s New York approached Schley’s Brooklyn, the latter singalled by flag “The enemy has surrendered” and “We have gained a great victory”, on which Sampson answered later with a “terse and seemed needlessly brusque” message according to naval Historian Joseph G. Dawson and tension grew between the men, but really exploded when the press decided to choose its champion, Sampson’s Fourth of July Victory, after his cable to Secretary Long. This was heavily resented by many in the fleet, moreover Schley.

On July, 5, Kentucky Congressman Albert S. Berry argued publicly that “Schley is the real hero of the incident” and that his actions deserved much of the credit for the American victory. The controversy gained momentum in the press, sides were chosen, with more credits to Schley be given on the popular opinion though a young cinema, Thomas Edison making an acclaimed film of the battle. Of course this divided the Academy and Officer corps as well, Alfred Thayer Mahan backing Sampson. When Secretary Long proposed the two officers being promoted Vice-admiral, Sampson was promoted first despite his lower rank in the promotions list which was seemed by many as “a great injustice” and the case was eventually ported to a court of inquiry which opened on September 12, 1901 at the Washington Navy Yard, with 14 charges of negligence over Schley, finding he did not “project the right image of a naval officer”. Schley did appealed to Theodore Roosevelt which called for an end to all public disputes but the affair somewhat tarnished what was otherwise a true, legitimate naval victory.


The Reina Mercedes, abandoned in Santiago Bay because of engine troubles. This unprotected cruiser was captured by the U.S. Navy and used as a receiving ship until 1957 as the USS Reina Mercedes. Two other colonial cruisers (Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon) were also reclassified as gunboats in US service?

Aftermath

The effects of this victory resonated less in the Spanish Congress as well as the popular press, than on elites who saw the last ships down with a final dream of matching Charles V Empire. In August, deprived of any support from the metropolis, Cuba surrendered and Spain sued for Peace in August. The war was over. Meanwhile a legend was forged on land, on San Juan hill: a stocky, highly energetic officer shouting orders to “Battler Joe” Wheeler (a celebrity of the former Confederate Army), with mustaches and little round glasses, climbed under fire at the head of his dismounted Rough Riders and entered the legend. Former Assistant Secretary of State for the Navy, avid reader of Mahan, Theodore Roosevelt was also an adept of the Monroe doctrine. He was elected 12 years later, President of the United States. A great lover of hunting and nature, he was also the driving force behind a navy that will raise in a matter of 15 years, to a level close to the Royal Navy, making it known worldwide through the acclaim “great white fleet” cruise. See US Navy in ww1.


Bios

Fernando Villamil Fernando Villaamil: A competent Spanish naval officer, designer of the first destroyer warship in history (Furor) and for the Battle of Santiago de Cuba as the highest ranking Spanish officer killed that day, of an heroic death.

Winfield Scott Schley:

A rear admiral in the United States Navy and the hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, Schley was debated over Sampson about who really won the battle. He was put in command of the Flying Squadron, with U.S.S. Brooklyn (CA-3) as his flagship. His ships engaged that day probably the best cruisers of the Spanish Navy, the Teresa, the Vizcaya, and the Colon. His duel with the Vizcaya could have turned more vicious if that was not for the help of the USS Oregon. His maneuvers were later magnified by the press and perhaps gave him more credits that he actually deserved.

Almirante Cervera

Almirante Pascual Cervera y Topete:

A highly decorated veteran of the Spanish Navy, which also distinguished himself during the Carlist Wars. Later as head of Spain’s Ministry of Navy, he attempted a number of far-reaching reforms but eventually resigned. At Cuba he led a brilliant circumnavigation of U.S. naval forces but did not had the necessary ships to face the US Navy there, his position being betrayed by the governor. Leaving Santiago to try leave the blockade ended in failure, but Cervera was upon his returned cleaned of any competence failings after the trial for the loss of his command, mostly because of the effort of his crew and was honored by the Republican Navy years after, naming a cruiser after him.

Admiral William T. Sampson

. Due to his senior position of command, Sampson was generally given full credits for his victory at Santiago. A New Yorker, pure product of the United States Naval Academy, he served in the Union Navy in 1864 with the monitor Patapsco of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In the 1880s he was a Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and he became Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance in the 1890s. He was also appointed as commander of the battleship Iowa in 1897 and led the enquiry for the destruction of the Maine. A rear admiral in 1898 his flagship was the armoured cruiser USS New York. He undertook the Cuban blockade and bombarded San Juan before being sent to intercept Cervera’s squadron.

Videos


About the battle


About the 1898 war – Crucible of an Empire

This article is part of a Triptych: The war of 1898.

Links & Sources

http://www.spanamwar.com/spanishf.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Santiago_de_Cuba
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_T._Sampson
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winfield_Scott_Schley
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascual_Cervera_y_Topete
Conway’s All The World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905

Battle of Manila May, 1, 1898

battle of Manila bay
Spanish Armada vs US Navy


Map of Manila’s battle actions (public domain)

Swapping an Empire for Another

The origins

The war of 1898 which emerged from the question of the independence of Cuba from Spanish so-perceived tyrannic colonial rule, was resolved rapidly through two naval battles. Strangely the first one did not occurred in the Caribbeans, but far away in Asia, in the maze of tropical islands called the Philippines. Thus remote possession of the Spanish Empire was all that left from its former Empire there since 1565, but still, a vital trade and materials provider (notably rubber), which was defended by a squadron while the capital Manila was well protected by a chain of forts all along the bay, easy to close and defend. The American attack came as a surprise (the local forces were not prepared, neither to the ferocity of the assault, nor to fight in any way).


USS Olympia
USS Olympia, Commodore Dewey’s flagship at the battle. It has been preserved and can be visited in the Independence Seaport Museum, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia. Illustration by the author.

The battle and its consequences

It was called soon a “splendid example of a splendid naval action” with tremendous consequences. For Spain, the fall of its Asian operating base (soon Guam followed) and the beginning of the end, confirmed at Cuba in July, which precipitated the end of the war. It proved that despite falling to near oblivion after the civil war, the American Navy was no longer a Joke for European powers. It changed the lives of all Filipino, that much like their Cuban counterparts, lived under a harsh colonial regime and developed resistance movements. First perceived like liberators, the new power however settled in a quasi-colonialist fashion, going as far as ordering fierce repressions leaving the impression to the locals of having swapped an imperialist power for another.


Dewey on the lookout post of the USS Olympia, a painting now at Vermont State.

The Battle of Manila was mainly a surprise attack by a U.S. Navy squadron on the Spanish Pacific Squadron anchored at Manila Bay. Complete destruction of the fleet prevented any reinforcements to Cuba and offered the United States a brand new platform in Asia for future expansions and its fleet support in this area. The victory was all the more dazzling for the Navy, its realization was daring, hazardous and risky, ended with no casualties but minor injuries, a feat rarely achieved for the scale of such battle. The strong impression it left, conducted the Japanese to apply the very same tactic at Port Arthur against the Russians some seven years later. This surprise attack and preventive strike would inaugurate a kind of action soon famous in warfare in general, in a sense prefiguring the blitzkrieg. Like Napoleon once stated, the “best defence is attack”. This success was largely celebrated and do well for the war nickname “the splendid little war” soon relayed by all the press, in the US and abroad.

Cruiser USS Raleigh (C8) circa 1900
Cruiser USS Raleigh (C8) circa 1900

Commodore Dewey’s Pacific Squadron

It all started with the plans reviewed by the Admiralty in the event of confrontation with Spain, a few years ago. That’s when Commodore George Dewey, then based in Hong Kong, was appointed to head the U.S. Pacific fleet at the insistence of the personal assistant to the secretary at the Naval affairs of the White House, Theodore Roosevelt. His squadron was quite thin in Asia in terms of impact force, especially compared to the Spanish fleet, reinforced by many land-based coastal batteries. His squadron included the cruiser USS Olympia, USS Boston, gunboat USS Petrel and the very old steam paddle USS Monocacy. That was only a mere fraction of the US Navy at that time, which bulk was facing Cuba.

Gunboat USS Petrel, circa 1900
Gunboat USS Petrel, circa 1900

Intelligence of the Armada

In addition, knowledge of the Spanish forces in the sector was meager, based on assumption that the bulk of the fleet was anchored in Manila, which was confirmed later by the American consul there, Oscar. F. Williams. Lieutenant Upham (USS Olympia) was also there in civilian disguise, roaming in the capital of the Philippines to try to glean detailed information on ships in harbour and movements. Finally Dewey himself has his own personal sources, form an American businessman who went there regularly and also passed more valuable information.

Cruiser Castilla
Spanish cruiser Castilla with full rigging in the 1880s.

State of Dewey’s squadron

But the supply of ammunition (as well as coal quality) was a real problem for the US squadron. Dewey’s ships had, few days before the battle, not yet received a quarter of their shell stock. Supply ships were hard to find and charter, many companies and crews refused to take the risk. The cruiser USS Baltimore, dry-docked, has her hull cleaned and repainted in dark gray within 48 hours, a more suitable livery than the classic peacetime classic “black hull, white and canvas superstructures” for naval operations. However, reinforcements arrived on the eve of the battle, with some equipment for the fleet and ammunition to complete inventories (40% Empty), accompanied by the cruiser USS Raleigh and a Customs patrol boat, the USS MacCulloch. Still later after the departure of the squadron, the gunboat USS Concord joined the group. Other depot ships were also collected for the purposes of last-minute supplies. At the outbreak of war, the squadron has coaled after many difficulties, but was now ready to depart, and morale was very high.


USS Baltimore (C3) starboard bow view in 1891. Notice the reduced military masts.

State of the Armada in Manila

Meanwhile the local Spanish pacific fleet was managed by Admiral Don Patricio y Montojo Pasaron, whose fleet included the cruisers Don Antonio de Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Reina Cristina, Castilla, Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon, and the gunboat Marques del Duero. Stationed at Manila Bay, they were deployed in front of Subic Bay, which defenses has been considerably reinforced after the outbreak of war. At the last minute, spare battery from the old gunboats Don Antonio and General Lezo were placed on coastal fortifications, as well as the guns of the cruiser Velasco. Castilla was also in such bad condition that its 150 mm (6 in) guns were landed, but left shortly before the attack on the beach instead of being swiftly mounted in position. The entrance of Subic Bay was mined, as well as that of the harbor of Manila. But if Subic bay of a tactical standpoint remains an excellent choice, no fortification was there, and there was a risk that the planned batteries carried by land could not be installed on schedule. Shallow water of the area also allowed in the worst case ships to be sunk on purpose to serve as fixed batteries. It also rendered a fleet moves difficult, lowering speed and easing the work of coastal artillery batteries.

Revenue cutter USRC McCulloch circa 1900
Revenue cutter USRC McCulloch circa 1900.

The battle

First moves

Since Montojo’s forces gradually showed signs of a defensive stance, most of the action and initiative would came from the Americans: On April 28, Montojo learned the departure of Commodore Dewey’s squadron. In emergency, he tried to install some extra guns, but officers in charge warned him that the defenses would not be ready on time. In addition he received a message from one of the highlights of Subic bay that Dewey already had sent some vanguard units in recognition. Therefore Montojo preferred to retreat under the protection of the guns of Manila and emboss his ships in front of the fortified Sangley Point, and the battery of Ulloa on Cavite. Vessels were sunk by opening valves, still able to continue firing, solidly planted on the sand. The cruiser Castilla, partly disarmed, has her sides protected by two old collier hulls filled with sand shells. Other preparations were in progress when the American fleet stood at the entrance of the bay. The latter could hear from the bridge the distant roar of the city of Manilla.


Engraving by J.D. Gleason (USN archives)n

Dewey prepares at Luzon

On april 30, the fleet arrived in Luzon. Dewey sent USS Boston and USS Concord in recognition of Subic, and USS Baltimore, which followed them in front of the fleet, received an erroneous report alleging artillery duels, quickly rectified. It was agreed that the Spanish fleet was no longer in Subic. Dewey turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Now we have them!”. The ship’s bridges were prepared in case of fire by throwing overboard all that was made of wood, except on the ship bearing the Admiral’s flag, the USS Olympia. Tons of sand were also thrown on bridges to allow grip because of probable seawater from plumes and blood, and certain sensitive parts were protected with thick cloth soaked in vinegar, as was done traditionally to ensure no fire can take root or spread.

Dewey’s approach to the Bay

The fleet headed for the entrance of the bay, protected by islands and islets, forming two more or less wide entries: Boca Chica and Boca Grande. This was dangerous because of its many reefs and narrows, although the maneuvers was feasible. Boca Grande entrance was marked by the forts of the island of Caballo and El Frail, and Boca Chica was even narrower and more heavily defended, notably by the island of Corregidor, surrounded by fortresses able to deliver (at least in theory) a punishing crossfire. Dewey did finally move his squadron in Boca Grande, at 23 pm, lights off except the pilot stern that allowed the battle line to follow. His line passed between Caballo and El Fraile north to south, included leading USS Olympia, followed by the steamer USS Nanshan, Zafiro, McCulloch, and Petrel, then the USS Raleigh, Concord and Boston.

Forts are the first to fire

The poor coal used by USS McCulloch made that little flame that arose from her high chimney an easy pick for the watchman of fort El Fraile, which promptly ordered to open fire. The first salvo fell between Raleigh and Petrel. The whole line answered, and quickly silenced the battery. However, the telegraphist was able to sent an alert at 2 am to Admiral Montojo, already on his feat after hearing the rumbling in the distance, frowned behind the hills of Cavite.

Painting of the battle by J.G. Tyler (USN archives)
Painting of the battle by J.G. Tyler (USN archives)

Spanish Actions Station

He sounded the rally and crew hurried to put away, or throw overboard everything that was a source of bursts, removing the boats, placing here and there many sandbags. Dewey line of battle went up quietly in the middle of the bay, and at 4:00, the armada signaled the general steadiness for combat. The men were at post, cruisers ready from the tip from Cavite to the batteries of Sangley Canaco. The Spanish fleet was forming a line of stepped defence in front of the city of Cavite, the Velasco drawing the battle line to the east of the fort at Sangley. The Zafiro, the Nanshan and McCulloch, the first two unarmed, were eventually sent back into the bay as observers, while the line drawn by the Olympia arrived at Manila, finding only cicilian steamers, tacked through the course to the southeast toward Cavite.

Dewey’s First pass

Dewey’s squadron was walking very slowly, at 3 knots, as he hoped that his vessels still could remain unspotted. However, Don Juan of Austria watchman saw at 4:45 am, still dark, the fire arose from U.S. ships chimneys and gave the alarm. The American line was then at 5 o’clock in the morning, dawn, under fire of the heavy batteries of the forts of Manila. Two cruisers responded with strict orders to use ammunition against these forts with economy, sparing them for the enemy ships. Montojo, seeing the artillery duel in front of Manila, decided to allow his ships to sail in an emergency and lay a few mines blocking Dewey, a risky maneuver performed by his admiral ship, cruiser Reina Cristina. Dewey spotted then at at 5:15 pm the light of the guns of Fort Canacao (one 120 mm/5-in gun) and Sangley Point (two 150 mm or 6-in guns), soon followed by those of Spanish cruisers.

Engraving of the battle, USN archive photo funds
Engraving of the battle, USN archive photo funds

Only 35 minutes later he ordered a counter fire when everyone was ready. The two 203 mm guns (6 in) of the USS Olympia front turret thundered, followed by those of other vessels of his squadron. By presenting the Spanish his ship’s prow first, Dewey did not run a great risk. But soon the Olympia began to turn course East to present its broadside, quickly followed by whole line, opening fire at point-blank range (400 meters).

First, the Reina Cristina was badly hit, after few impacts sparking a fire and knockout her main artillery. Dewey initiated to bring a turning movement, the famous “spiral” in reduced mode (6-8 knots, approx. 10-12 km/h), precisely in order to concentrate his fire back to the north, then back again from the east, each time bearing all its broadside. The line was far enough, however, to avoid the shallows of Canacao’s bay.

Drawing of the battle by W.G. Wood
Drawing of the battle by W.G. Wood – USN photos archives

Dewey’s incredible withdrawal

At 7:30 am, Dewey suddenly learned that his main battery had only fifteen rounds left. The situation still could turn out badly very quickly. He decided, though men were still ready to fight, to withdraw to replenish his ships, and allowed his men to take a breakfast, while always under Spanish range. This reckless feat was later noted in the press as further evidence of the extraordinary American confidence over the final issue (or arrogance). But in truth the inventory had been misinterpreted, because only fifteen rounds has been fired by gunners in all that time, taking even more time for aiming than the exercise!… This was repeated later at Santiago.

USS Olympia leading the battle line in Manila Bay
USS Olympia leading the battle line in Manila Bay

But the results seemed to pay off at this distance, with more than 2% hits (at the time was a good result). The retreat order given by Dewey in any case was not well received by the crews, especially the gunners and their officers which suddenly had to provide a detailed report of losses in men and ammunition remaining while those from the boiler rooms had to run along the ships to check for damage. Confusion even shortly reigned aboard the Olympia, which amid the smoke of the fire falsely spotted a torpedo attack from two Spanish steamers, quickly knocked out by small quick-firing pieces. It turned out later that these were two small civilian boats, wrong place, wrong time.


Cruiser Alfonso XII class. 1885, 3000T, wooden hulled with iron plating. The Reina Cristina was present at Manila. She had (in theory) six Hontoria 152 mm.

Dewey’s second pass

After this surrealist pause, unique in naval warfare, Deweys resumed his attack. Meanwhile indeed, the Spanish did not remain idle. Not only they replicated feverishly, but they also attempted an attack in the old style, Don Juan de Austria and Reina Cristina placing themselves in position to launch a ramming attack. When spotting the manoeuver, a barrage of fire kept them at bay. The Cristina, already deprived of its firing direction, was therefore struck by other shells, one of which entered her hospital room and the other penetrated its rear ammunition store. The latter started to burst but did not explode, promptly drowned by pumps. Nonetheless the fire quickly spread elsewhere and soon ran out of control. Later on, with only a handful of gunners remaining, half her crew ashore, and most officers killed or wounded, Montojo decided to scuttle his flagship. Taking a skiff, he quickly joined the cruiser Isla de Cuba to raise his mark and give orders. The Don Antonio de Ulloa was soon disabled and scuttled as well in shallow water, so that the crew remained on board and resumed firing. Despite the short distance, the poorly trained Spanish gunners scored almost no hit. The Castilla followed suite and was also evacuated and scuttled. Montojo ordered the remaining ships to sail towards Bacoor Bay to pursue the fight, and be scuttled in shallow water. They eventually surrendered before it took place.


Spanish cruiser/gunboat Isla de Luzon.

The battle ends

The American fleet had taken several hits buy almost without damage and no casualties. The only serious hit was taken by the USS Baltimore, that struck the freeboard, ricocheted off the bridge, crossed a deckhouse, bounced inside the shield of a 6 inch from the opposite side, ricocheted a second time on the bridge and buried itself without exploding… There was eventually 8 minor injuries as a result of sparks and splinters. More fear than harm.


Wreck of the Castilla

At 11h 16 pm, the cease-fire became evident as the Spanish squadron appeared to have been completely knockout. However there was a final artillery duel between USS Baltimore and the still undamaged Canacao and Sangley forts, which were silenced in turn. Yet Dewey was warned that the crew of Don Antonio de Ulloa, although half submerged, was still firing with the last usable gun. In fact this was not true, but a rain of shells quickly fell on the already wrecked ship, slaughtering survivors. Yet the last remaining sailors did not capped their flag. American gunners themselves were impressed by the bravado of these Spanish crews. Gunboat USS Petrel was ordered to enter the harbor, checking unit still able to fight and then be back to make a report. Off the town of Cavite, she wiped out and silenced another battery with her 6 inches guns.


Sunken wreck of the Reina Cristina

Ceasefire

At noon, the case was made. All Spanish ships were reported permanently disabled. Montojo noted in his report 127 dead and 214 injured. The heavy batteries of Manila however, were still able to sink any American ships, but incredibly stood quiet for fear of reprisals. The only two American deaths were due to the chief engineer of the McCulloch, Randall, having a heart attack during Boca Grande maneuvers, and Captain Charles Gridley, already ill, which directed Olympia’s fire from blockhouse, transformed into real oven under the scorching sun of the region. He too badly suffered from the heat, but died a month later at Kobe, back home.
Later, the Americans would seize the cruisers Isla de Cuba and Isla de Luzon, repair them, and resumed their service in the US Navy as gunboats under their original names. In 1912, the Isla de Cuba was also sold in Venezuela, which kept it in service until the late 40. As for the Olympia, the Isla de Cuba was preserved and is currently the visiting centerpiece of Independence Seaport Museum, at Philadelphia.

Sunset victory

At sunset, the USS Olympia came quietly to the mooring at the waterfront of Manila, all flags were raised like for a parade, sailors and officers aligned in perfectly clean uniforms, and the full orchestra dressed in regalia lined up on the rear deck, beginning a series repertoire of songs in honor of the defeated man of the day, Montojo, and the gallantry of the entire Spanish fleet.
The astonished Manilese came to hear these tunes on the docks, while echoing from Cavite continuous explosions of the last stocks of ammunitions in still smoldering wrecks.


The flag is raised over the fortifications

Manila’s control

While the Spanish fleet was clearly out of action, Dewey still did not controlled the city, which unlike Cuba, became the prey of insurgents. The entire American squadron cannot not even muster a company capable of reaching the governor palace. Dewey then took the decision after news of his victory cabled, to set up a naval blockade of Manila Harbour until reddition of the officials. He was promised troops quickly. In town, several persistent rumors spoke of an alliance between Germany and Spain, in Habsburg memory. Some even predicted an imminent declaration of war by Germany, another rumor pretended an army of 10,000 Germans from Tsing Tao just landed at Subic… However, the Filipino independence movement was quickly sent into action, and revolutionaries under the leadership of Vicente Catalan, provoked the mutiny of the steamer Compania de Filipinas, July 5, 1898. Spanish officers were executed, and the ship rallied Manila, with other steamer crews. Promoted “Admiral of the Mosquito Fleet” and flying a provisional flag of the Philippine Republic, Catalan ordered to paint false barbettes on the hull and installed on the main deck dummy guns made with copper pipes painted black. Thus disguised as “cruiser”, the Compania of Filipinas, a former Tobacco carrier, rallied Subic Bay in order to obtain the surrender of the garrison of the fort, under the threat of his “guns”.


Filipino guerrillas, 1899

Philippines Control

But the Spanish garrison refused and Catalan decided to send a company to finish them. Preparations went on, when the sailors of the improvised cruiser discovered with amazement the “real” German cruiser Irene nearby. The latter raised on her mast a recognition signal and summons the company to stop. The Filipino steamer was seen indeed by the Germans as a “pirate”, the Philippine Republic being not recognized. Meanwhile a diplomatic waltz took place in Europe, each nation sending vessels to “show the flag” in these waters. The Filipino mock cruiser was no match and hoisted the white flag. Informed of the situation, Dewey sent the Concord and Raleigh to intervene and require in turn the Spanish surrender. The Irene, seeing the American ships arrived, went quietly mooring on the other side of Isla Grande, and after a warning shot from Commander Coghlan of USS Raleigh, the garrison stir in turn the white flag.

Reassured by the hope of surrendering to regular troops, the Spanish garrison left the fort in good order and joined the Raleigh. Coghlan, however, had been ordered to assign prisoners to Catalan, while the latter was ordered to hand them over to the Governor of Manila. The Philippine “independence” was granted by the Treaty of Paris signed Dec. 10, 1898, but in reality the first elected president, Emilio Aguinaldo, was seen as a puppet of the White House by the majority of former revolutionaries who took over arms. U.S. military presence, was soon dragged into a new bloody and bitter insurgency war.

New threats and challenges

Later, U.S. troops also had to face the revolt of the indigenous Moros. US presence solidified in the interwar as former Spanish bases were developed and strengthened, fortified over the years 20-30, to the point of building a “concrete battleship”. In 1941, General MacArthur directed the U.S. forces in the Philippines, and considered the approaches to Manila (by jungle or sea), impregnable. It was December 1941, but that’s another story…

Bios

Admiral Patricio Montojo

Born in Ferrol, in Galicia (naval base, shipyard and major industrial hub), Montojo was graduated from the Naval School in Cadiz and spend years in the Philippines fighting the Moros. He was commander also of the Cuba squadron and later Río de la Plata. Montojo was wounded during the Manila Bay battle, as was one of his two sons, and was court-martialled after the war in Madrid, and imprisoned. He was released later, thanks to the intervention of his subordinates and …Dewey himself.

Georges Dewey

Cdr Georges Dewey

A graduated from the naval Academy, born in Montpelier, Vermont, he was also a decorated veteran of the civil war, for his service on the USS Mississippi, ramming the CSS Manassas. He also took part in the Battle of Port Hudson, and promoted by Farragut, commanded the USS Agawam, USS Colorado and fought at Ft Fisher. As a commodore he was assigned to the Pacific Squadron in 1893 and acted masterfully at the head of his squadron from the USS Olympia at the battle, for which he became a hero after the war, being offered multiple decorations and a priceless sword by the president.

spanish-american war
This article is part of three dedicated to the Spanish-American War

The War of 1898

How the “splendid little war” began

As we know, this war began with the blowing up of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. The explosion later formally identified it as accidental, but the American public then has been pushed “white hot” by the press and recent events, such as the Cuban rebellion led since 1869 against Spanish occupation. Cuba was the last of its former South American colonial empire, shattered by revolutions following Simon Bolivar epic. Spain clung to her last possessions (including the Philippines) in 1897.

USS Maine illustration
USS Maine, author’s illustration

The accident was actually interpreted as a Spanish sabotage, and United States declared war on Spain April 25, 1898, two months after. Originally the Maine has been sent in the harbor of Havana, in order to recover US citizens informally possibly threatened by the general insurrection. Insurgents were then supported covertly by the United States.

Battleship USS Maine at the time of the fatal explosion inside Havana. That bad fortune bring the Casus Belli the Americans waited for. To date, the hypothesis of an accidental explosion of the forward ammunition magazine is accepted my mainstream historians.

President McKinley, without formal proofs, but backed by the press and Congress, had accused the Spanish local authorities of sabotage, making it a perfect Casus Belli. Operations soon started, after a failed negotiation for a Spanish withdrawal from Cuba, naturally refused. Admiral Sampson began a blockade of the North coast of Cuba, preventing the arrival of reinforcements.

Far away though, on 1 May 1898, the U.S. Pacific Fleet attacked the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Manila, the Philippines, under the command of Admiral Montojo, and crushed it without a single loss, to prevent reinforcements from the Spanish Pacific and threatening Spanish colonial interests in the area. The Atlantic Fleet was responsible for the area of Santiago de Cuba, when Cervera’s squadron came from Spain with reinforcements, trying to break the blockade when took place the famous battle of San Juan.


Cruiser Vizcaya. To support its fledgling empire, the Armada (Spanish Navy) was on paper twice as large as the US Navy back in 1898. She was however only a shadow of its former glory, and the total defeat suffered mirrored the crippling Russian losses at Tsushima six years later. New powers challenged old Europe.

This was a disaster for the Spanish navy, which lost its main armored cruisers, and more than half of the fleet. Peace was signed in Paris December 10, 1898. The United States emerged as a protectorate over Cuba, bases in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and especially Hawaii, the future headquarters of the Pacific Fleet. This was the beginning of the American “imperialism”.

The US Navy in 1898

There are two basic major periods to qualify the United States Navy in the nineteenth century: There is the “Old Navy”, which included ships from some of the wars of independence against England in the Napoleonic era, ships as old as the USS Constitution (“old Ironsides”, 1797), but also all vessels originally designed before, during and after the Civil War of 1861-1865. One thing was sure, the finances of the United States after the secession war did not allow to built a Blue Water Navy to speak of: The years 1870-80 were years of crisis.

It was not until 1890 a semblance of rebirth of what is now called the “New Navy” began, under the influence of thinkers like Mahan and prominent Republicans like “Teddy” Roosevelt. Almost all the remaining units of the Old Navy would be scrapped and a few survivors of the 1870s served as depot or training ship.
From the rebirth of the “Navy” to 1898, it will take eight years, used to provide a real potential and eventually resort as more than a match for its Spanish opponent.

Types

USA

Spain

Ironclads 0 5
Cruisers 3 17
TBs 2 16
Gunboats 3 43
Miscellaneous 32 3

*Small table comparing American and Spanish navies in 1890: It shows the overwhelming Spanish superiority.
* While the two fleets have submersibles, in 1898, they are not included in this table for obvious reasons: At that time it was experimentation: Their military value was purely theoretical.

Types

USA

Spain

Battleships 6 4
Armoured Cruisers 2 6
Cruisers 15 18
Destroyers 0 6
TBs 5 13
Monitors 6 0
Gunboats 16 43
Miscellaneous 20 3

As can be seen, the superiority of the Spanish navy in 1898 is still obvious, at least on paper. But on the battleships, one is truly “modern”, although its design dates back, the Pelayo. In contrast, American battleships are recent and of good quality, which gives a real balance of power 6 to 1. The same applies to the cruisers. Those aligned by Spain are older than ten years and so small that they could be likened to gunboats.

However the American domination in monitors is of little interest in the conflict of 1898, this type of vessel being recorded in coastal defense, not to distant operations, like the whole of American TBs. The apparent dominance of Spain in gunboats also illusory: Thirty of them are small colonial units of less than 100 tons and lightly armed, those of high seas being over-age, while the U.S. units are modern, powerful and designed for the high seas. What is quite instructive in this regard: When the Americans took possession of protected cruisers Spanish Isla de Cuba and Isla de Luzon, they were reinstated in the Navy as gunboats (See fact sheets on the Battle of Santiago and the Raid of Manila).

Battle order of the US Navy in 1898

6 Battleships:
Unquestionably, the highlight of the Navy. They were known to be slower than the armored cruisers, but proved fast enough in front of the old Spanish buildings poorly maintained. There were Texas, Maine, the three Indiana, Iowa. Two other (class Kearsarge) were completed, three (class Illinois) under construction, three more (Class Maine (2)) Scheduled for 1899. The name “Maine” was given shortly after the loss of the first in Havana. Texas, Indiana, Oregon, Massachussetts, Iowa, were all present at the battle of Santiago.

6 Monitors: There were 12 already in service from the end of the Secession war, relegated as second-class monitors. They are bottom of the list. The only monitors worthy of the name in the Navy buildings were modern and high water if able to cross the Atlantic. They were the USS Puritan (1882), initiated in 1876 and completed much later, in 1896. In terms of weaponry, she had the value of a battleship. The four Amphitrite (1896) were in the same case. Finally, the Monterey was in cons but is started in 1889 and completed in 1893. So she was more modern. All of them were much higher than the Puigcerda, who also served as a training ship in 1898. They hardly took part in any act of war but did patrolled.

2 Armored cruisers: Relative disadvantage because the Navy had only two, the USS New York, flagship of Commodore Sampson in the Battle of Santiago, and the USS Brooklyn, flagship of Schley at that battle. The Brooklyn distinguished herself while USS New York, absent from the combat, is practically not involved. Compared to Spanish ships, they were more recent, more accurate, fast but relatively less well protected. In battle a duel to the death between the Brooklyn and Viscaya, ended in the destruction of the latter.

15 Cruisers: Apparent inferiority also the Navy, at least on paper. As noted above, the Spanish units from the 1880s would be classified as “gun” in the Navy. Only Alfonso XII and Reina Regente could bear comparison. They were sometimes old ships, like the two Atlanta (1884), Chicago (1885), Charleston (1888), the Newark and San Francisco (1889), and other more “modern” as the two Baltimore (1888), Olympia (1892), both Cincinnati (1892), the three Montgomery (1893), both Columbia (1893). For good measure, two summers had ordered an emergency at the deteriorating relations between the United States and Spain to Britain, to Armstrong projects, both New Orleans. They will be accepted for service in 1898 (but too late to serve during the war) and 1900. Most distinguished themselves during the great raid on the Philippines in May 1898. In pure tonnage, in armament, quality and modernity, the report was totally in favor of the Navy.

16 Gunboats: These were ocean-going vessels, recent and heavily armed: The Dolphin (1886), the three Yorktown (1889-1890), the Petrel (1888), the Bancroft (1892), the Nashville (1895), the two Machias (1891), the two Wilmington (1895), the two Wheeling (1897), the three Annapolis (1896) brand new, and a fourth class, completing in 1898. They were much larger than their Spanish equivalents, which would have classified as “cruisers”.

No Destroyer so far: The USS Farragut was the first. In 1898, she was under construction. She will be launched in July 1898 and completed in March 1899. The Armada had an incontestable advance in this field.

5 TBs: All Torpedo Boats were of local construction and new, their military value was greater than their Iberian antagonists at least on paper. However, they played no role in the campaign, because of coastal nature and limited range. These were the old Stiletto (1886), Cushing (1890), Ericsson (1894), two of the Foote class (1897), a third would be accepted for service in mid-1898. Several others would be operational before the end of the war, whereas new orders were placed. In total 35 boats would be accepted until 1905.

1 Submersible: The Holland (1897), probably the most famous Anglo-Saxon submarine, was just tested in 1898. She was revolutionary at the time, designed by John Holland, who created a few years later Electric Boat to mass produce these, today’s still the largest manufacturer in the world in this field. She was already more reliable and efficient than the experimental Spanish submarine Isaac Peral.

20 Miscellaneous ships: This is difficult to classify these ships, due to their typology: The most recent and interesting were the USS Kathadin ramming cruiser, launched in 1893 and inspired by ships developed by France and Britain. At this time of passion for antiquity, the spur was favored to the extent that we designed units specifically dedicated to this purpose. The other ship is the only pneumatic guns gunboat/cruiser that ever existed: The USS Vesuvius. She bombarded the port of Santiago de Cuba, but this was her only military action.

Moreover, the lists still included number of older units, used mostly as a training ships, old monitors, used as second-class coastal units, eight of the Passaic class, four of Canonicus class, old sailing sloops, two of the Galena class, USS Marion, Mohican (1876 -85), the first a naval militia school and the second as a more advanced training ship, four Enterprise Class (1874-78), three of which served as training ships, the Alliance, Enterprise, and Essex, and the Adams as a patrol ship, two of the Alert class, and one Ranger, also a patrol ship. All were composite ships (rigging and steam) and low military value.

Requisitions:
In this chapter, detached from the comparison table above as specially chartered for the war and only during that one year of the conflict are different units, armed in haste to the declaration of war: These were the auxiliary cruisers USS (former SS) Saint Paul and Saint Louis, liners of 1894-95, 15,000 tonnes, well armed.

The USS Harvard and Yale (1888), also well armed. They are also the steamers Badger, Buffalo, Dixie, Panther, Prairie, Yankee, Yosemite, dating from 1889 to 1893 and renamed, and converted Yachts as Auxiliary patrol ships (although their speed allows them to be used as scouts), the Dorothea, Eagle, Gloucester, Hornet, Mayflower, Scorpion, Vixen and Wasp (renamed and recent, 1890-1898). They played a definite role in the Battle of Santiago as they accompanied the squadrons of Sampson and Schley on the wings. The Vixen was used as a dispatch vessel with the Admiralty and Schley and Samspon, while USS Gloucester moan down Spanish destroyer Pluton with her two QF 57 mm guns.


Spanish Armada

THE ARMADA (1898)

Well above the U.S. Navy in the 1870s to the 1890s, the Spanish Armada was a serious adversary for a new, still green “New Navy”, and its handful of modern units. In gross tonnage, the Armada was largely on paper over, and the seventh largest in the world (behind the British, French, Russian, German, Italian and Japanese Navies of the time). She was at least equally impressive in 1870, counting seven ironclads, many ships of the line, large frigates and sloops.

Its huge colonial empire, the second behind Great Britain then extended over part of South America but also the Caribbean, Far East and Pacific. Following the epic of Simon Bolivar’s revolutions, Spain gradually lost in the early nineteenth century her main colonies of South America and only remained Cuba in 1898, controlling its possessions in the Caribbean, but also the Philippines in the far east, and also Guam in the Pacific, the Mariana and Carolina Islands being recently purchased by Germany. Her fleets from 1876 were stationed in the Metropolis (Cartagena), on her possessions in the Caribbean in Cuba (Havana) and one fleet was stationed in the the Philippines also guarding her possessions in the Pacific (Manila).

Financial situation deteriorated as an echo of an internal quite turbulent political situation, making Spain an easy victim for the nascent colonial ambitions of the United States, which reach their climax with the election to the White House of George Mc Kinley. Many American businessmen, who have financial interests in Cuba, and support the local insurgents, are actively lobbying for the war and working in secret to find a flaw.

Prow Infantry Maria Teresa This was an unexpected accident, immediately exploited by the press, giving a perfect casus belli: The explosion of the Maine in Havana harbor. The case, probably an accident, became a deliberate attempt of hatred Spain authorities against the American people. The rest is history: the Pacific Fleet (Montojo) of the Philippines was wiped out on May 1 and the Cuban release fleet of Admiral Cervera was defeated July 3, 1898. In a quick succession, the “pearl of the empire” and the bulk of the Spanish colonies in the Pacific (including Guam) fell to the Americans, now “protectorates”, with new precious bases and strategic resources for an expanding naval power.

Armada – Battle order in 1898

-3 Battleships :
A single modern battleship, the Pelayo and two older Ironclads, Numancia and Vitoria, recently overhauled in France, and the very old Mendez Nuñez. Only the first was of a real fighting value, although ranked second class, with a configuration in lozenge unlike British battleships, the others being in a hypothetical “third class”. The Mendez Nuñez, dating back from 1869, was in reserve, used as an officer floating mess and HQ. The Numancia and Vitoria dating from the 1860s, were relegated to coastal defense and none were near to their U.S. counterparts, brand new battleships.


Cruiser Castilla

5 (6) armored cruisers: They are undoubtedly the backbone of the Spanish Navy: These were the Infanta Maria Teresa class (3), the Cristobal Colón (former Italian), and Emperador Carlos V (being tested), while three others were being completed, the class Princesa de Asturias. Only the first was completed, although other sources speak of a final commissioning in 1902, due to extensive testing. But it was afloat in 1898 and adapted to receive the crews. However it was doubtful that it can be operational in time, except in emergencies.

18 Cruisers: This was first of the recent class ships Reina Regente (3), Alfonso XII (3), and oldest 2nd class Isla de Luzon (3), Velasco (6), and Aragon (3). In addition, the Rio de la Plata was under construction in France, and was scheduled to Estramadura Ferrol in 1899.

12 Torpedo Gunboats: This were more precisely the Destructor (1886), Filipinas (1892), the 7 Temerario (1889-1891), and 3 Doña Maria de Molina (1896-1897), brand new, then on trials.

reina cristina
Reina Cristina. She was one of the numerous cruisers and ironclads the Spanish fleet was made of, a former glory of what remained the “Armada” which used to be the most powerful navy in the world during Charles V reign. However, if on the paper this fleet was numerically impressive, ironclads were at best only good for coastal defence, some of the cruisers (like this one) were unarmored and sometimes even unarmed, with obsolete guns, depleted or ill-trained crews, poorly supplied and commanded, but not lacking bravery in any aspects.

6 Destroyers: Some ships of English origin (Two of Furor class) and built in spain (the Audaz 4), brand new.

15 Destroyers: They were older (1878 to Castor, French origin) to 1887 (Ejercito, German original), commanded by unit or in two different sites, mostly British.

1 Submersible: Isaac Peral (1888), named after the talented Jewish engineer who conceived her, preceded by Ictíneo, Narciso Monturiol in 1859. It goes without saying that the Peral was strictly coastal and experimental.

37 Gunboats: Sailing sloop Jorge Juan (1876), gunboats Class Fernando el Catolico (2) and those of class General Concha (4), plus thirty light colonial gunboats 2nd class (less than 100 tonnes and a single gun), the Alvarado, Albay, Alsedo, Almendares, Arayat, Calamianes, Callao, Cocodrilo, Contramaestre, Criolo, Cuba Espanola, Diego Velasquez, Eulalia, Ferrolano, Flecha, Fradera, Glacela, gaditano , Indio, Leyte, MacMahon, Manileno, Mariveles, Mindanao, Mindoro, Pampanga, Panay, Paragua, Pelicano, Pilar, Ponce de Leon, Prueba, Salamandro, Samar, Sandoval, and telegramma.

USS MAINE (1895)
USS Maine
This was the second battleship to enter US Navy service in 1895 was built at NY navy Yard from 1888 to 1889 from a Samuda design originally made for the Brazilian Riachuelo. It was considered not a proper battleship but more a heavy armoured cruiser. Although not a satisfactory design, being a “second rate” battleship, the Maine kept the Echeloned turrets seen in the previous USS Texas, but with more space between them. It was sent to be anchored at La Havana harbor, “showing the flag” during the Cuban revolution. After three weeks it blew up under circumstances which has been clarified far later as an accident in forward magazines, but was also instrumental to forge a casus belli as the Spanish were accused.

  • Weight & dimensions : 6682 t (7180 t FL); 97,23 x 17,37 x 6,55 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 9000 hp, 17 knots.
  • Armour : Harvey belt 12in, barbettes 12in, turrets 8in, CT 10in
  • Armament : 2×2 10in (254 mm), six 6in/30 (152 mm), 7-6pdr (57 mm) and four 356 mm sub TT.
  • Crew : 374

USS NEWARK (1890)
USS Newark
Being officially the C1, first cruiser of a very long line in the US Navy, the Newark was mostly based on a previous steam-and-sail vessel, USS Chicago, and relatively conservative in its design although more successful. With a better protective deck, the Newark was more successful than the Chicago, laid down 6 years before. She was rigged as a barque but the sails were soon removed. She played no active part during the 1898 war and was stricken in 1913, serving as a quarantine Hulk at Providence until being sold in 1926.

  • Weight & dimensions : 4083 t (4592 t FL); 99,97 x 14,98 x 5,74 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 8500 hp, 18 knots.
  • Armour : Complete 2in and 3in amodship protective deck, CT 3in
  • Armament : Twelve 6in/30 (152 mm), 4-6pdr (57 mm), 4-3pdr (47 mm) and 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns.
  • Crew : 374

USS CINCINATTI (1892)
USS Cincinatti
Authorized in 1888, these two cruisers were loosely based on the classic Armstrong-Elswick style export cruiser. But they had a single 6 inches gun and her 5in were not as efficient. Commissioned in 1895, they played no active part in 1898 battles. These two small and relatively fast cruisers built in NY navy yard and Norfolk were originally rigged but their fore and aft sails were removed in 1899.

  • Weight & dimensions : 3183 t (3339 t FL); 93,13 x 12,80 x 5,49 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 10 000 hp, 19 knots.
  • Armour : Complete 2in and 2,5in amidship protective deck, CT 2in
  • Armament : One 6in/30 (152 mm), 10x5in (127 mm), 8-6 pdr (75 mm), 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns, four 457 mm TT sub
  • Crew : 322

USS SAN FRANCISCO (1890)
USS San Francisco
Almost a sister-ship to the USS Newark, the San Francisco was rigged as a three masted schooner. Its fore and aft 6in guns were not mounted in sponsons, but on the forecastle and poop, but they were rearmed in 1902-03. She was built at Union Iron works, the keel laid down in august 1888 and commissioned in november 1890. She played no major part in the 1898 war and was used as a minelayers in WW1, decommissioned in 1921 and stricken in 1939.

  • Weight & dimensions : 4088 t (4583 t FL); 98,91 x 14,98 x 5,74 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts HTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 10 500 hp, 19 knots.
  • Armour : Complete 2in and 3in amidship protective deck, CT 3in
  • Armament : Twelve 6in/30 (152 mm), 4-6pdr (76 mm), 4-3 pdr (47 mm), 2-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns.
  • Crew : 384

USS STILLETTO (1890)
USS Stiletto
This very first American torpedo-boat was purchased after completion by Herreshoff as a private speculation, in 1887. Built in wood, she was fast but unreliable and mainly used for testings. An experimental, wooden hulled torpedo-boat, using coal.

  • Weight & dimensions : 31 t; 28,64 x 3,50 x 0,91 m
  • Propulsion : 1 shaft VC, 1 Almy Boiler, 359 hp, 18,2 knots.
  • Armour : None
  • Armament : Two Howell torpedoes for trials.
  • Crew : 384

USS TEXAS (1892)
USS Texas
Although she was laid down in 1889 and launched in june 1892 at Norfolk NYd, after the Maine, whe was commissioned earlyer, thus gaining the title of first american battleship. Texas fought at the battle of Santiago. This first battleship was relatively weak in european standards, with two single-gunned en echelon turrets. Fought at Santiago, but not seriously tested.

  • Weight & dimensions : 6135 t (6665 t FL); 94,13 x 19,53 x 6,86 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 4 cyl Boilers, 8600 hp, 17 knots.
  • Armour : Harvey NS 12in protective deck,Turrets 12in, hoists 6in, CT 12in
  • Armament : 2×1 12in (305 mm), 6-6in (152 mm), 12-6pdr (57 mm), 6-1pdr (37 mm) QF guns, 4 356 mm TT.
  • Crew : 508

USS BALTIMORE (1888)
USS Baltimore
USS Baltimore was given the number C3 (older Chicago and Atlanta class were not included in this nomenclature, and authorized in august 1883. In fact she was based on the losing plans of the Elswick design for the Reina Regente, with a high freeboard, aprotective deck about 2,5 to 3 inches and a main armament of 8 in and 6 in guns. Launched in 1888 at Cramp, NY and commissioned in 1890, this cruiser was seen as the most successful design of the 1880s. This ship played no part in the 1898 war, and was rearmed in 1900-1903 with an all-6 in/40 mk.VII armament (seven guns, height amidship and four on the poop and forecastle. She was used as a minalyer in the Atlantic in WW1 decommissioned in 1922 but not sold prior to 1942.

  • Weight & dimensions : 4413 t (5436 t FL) ; 102,11 x 14,78 x 5,94 m
  • Propulsion : Steam only – 2 shafts, 2 HTE Compound engine, 4 boilers, 10750 hp, 19 knots.
  • Blindage : Deck 2,5 in, 4 in amidships, 3 in conning tower.
  • Armament : Four 8 in (203 mm), six 6 in (152 mm), four 75 mm, two 47 and two 37 mm QF.
  • Crew : 386

USS COLUMBIA (1892)
USS Columbia
This class of cruisers built at Cramp with a year between respective commission were approved in 1890 and designed as commerce raiders, with a good speed and great autonomy. They differed by their funnels arrangement, Minneapolis having two of them. However they were often considered undergunned for their size. A class of cruisers which were relatively good steamers, Columbia for example was able to cross the atlantic, from Southampton to Sandy hook in just six days 23 hours, although they had a high coal consumption which led to decommission them from 1907 to 1915.

  • Weight & dimensions : 7357 t (8270 t FL); 125,90 x 17,72 x 6,88 m
  • Propulsion : 3 shafts VTE, 8 cyl Boilers, 21 000 hp, 21 knots.
  • Armour : Belt 2,5-4in, turrets 4in, secondary 2in, CT 5in
  • Armament : One 8in/40 Mk.III (203 mm), Two 6i/40n (152 mm), eight 4in/40 (152 mm), 12-6pdr (75 mm), 4-1pdr (37 mm QF) four 457 mm sub TT.
  • Crew : 477

USS OLYMPIA (1892)
USS Olympia
The cruiser USS Olympia was the most famous during in the entire war, as beeing the flagship of Commodore Dewey, the Hero of the battle of Manilla. She was relatively fast but small and cramped, and not seriously tested during the battle. Authorized in 1888, built at Union Iron Works in 1891-92 and commissioned in 1895, this cruiser was brand new when the war erupted. Protection was guaranteed by 3,5 to 4,5in Harvey nickel steele plates, which would have been probably not sufficient against some spanish ships. However the engines room was well protected by a 4in glacis. She was a good steamer, capable of 17 300 hp on forced draught, giving 21,7 knots. She is famous for beeing the flagship of Commodore Dewey, leading the American squadron in Manila harbor. She is now the only preserved warship of its kind in the world, and can be seen in the Independence Seaport Museum, philadelphia PA.

  • Weight & dimensions : 5862 t (6558 t FL); 104,78 x 16,15 x 6,55 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 13 5000 hp, 20 knots.
  • Armour : Harvey belt 3 in, barbettes 4,5 in, turrets 3,5 in, secondary 4 in, CT 5 in
  • Armament : Four 8in (203 mm), ten 5in (127 mm), fourteen 6pdr (57 mm), six 1pdr (37 mm QF) and six 457 mm aw.
  • Crew : 411

USS FOOTE (1896)
USS Foote
The USS Foote was one of a serie of three torpedo boats, built in 1896 at Columbian Iron Works. They fought during the 1898 war at Cuba and survived WW1. This class was preceded by the US Ericsson (1894) and USS Cushing (1890), both deriving from the experimental Stiletto, the first American Torpedo boat. They were seaworthy but short range boats, with a better speed than previous boats, and fought at Cuba. However, the following Porter (two ships launched in 1897) were faster and better armed. These were all the Tbs available when war broke out.

  • Weight & dimensions : 142 t (155 t FL); 48,76 x 4,91 x 1,52 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 2 cyl Thornycroft/Mosher Boilers, 3200 hp, 25 knots.
  • Armour : none
  • Armament : Three 1pdr (37 mm QF) and three 457 mm TT.
  • Crew : 20

USS IOWA (1897)
USS Iowa
This battlehip, the BB4, was launched at Cramp in 1896 and commissioned in june 1897, prior to the war. She was generally similar to the previous Indiana class, but with a better distribution of armor, and more powerful, beeing 1 knot faster. She played her part but was not seriously tested during the battle of Santiago. This unique battleship was an improvement of the preview Indiana class. She was better protected and faster, capable of 17,1 knots with forced draught, and recoignisable with its tall funnels. She fought at Santiago, and received a cage foremast in 1909, and its 6 pdrs and TT removed to make way to four 4 in guns. She made some patrols in the atlantic during WW1, was decommissioned in 1919 and used as a radiocontrolled target ship, beeing finally sunk in 1923.

  • Weight & dimensions : 11 410 t (12 647 t FL); 110,47 x 22 x 7,32 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 5 cyl Boilers, 11000 hp, 16 knots.
  • Armour : Harvey belt 14 in, barbettes 15 in, turrets 17 in, secondary 8 in, CT 10 in
  • Armament : 2×2 12in (305 mm), 4×2 8in (203 mm), six 6in (152 mm), 20-6pdr (57 mm), 4-1pdr (37 mm QF) and four 356 mm sub TT.
  • Crew : 654

USS Oregon (1897)
USS Oregon
The USS Oregon was one of the three Indiana class battleships, authorized under the act of 30.6.1890. This “new navy” prototype was in reality not very successful as for its severe limitations in displacement that hampered some characteristics, like the low freeboard. One one ships turrets were unbalanced with hydraulic training and steam on the two others. They had two chimneys and a military foremast. USS Indiana, Massachusetts and oregon were laid down in 7.5, 25.6 and 19.11 1891, launched in 1893 and commissioned in 1895 (Indiana) and 1895 for the two others. Indiana and Oregon took part in the battle of Santiago but were not seriously tested.

  • Weight & dimensions : 11 288 t (11 688 t FL); 106,95 x 21,10 x 7,32 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 6 cyl Boilers, 9000 hp, 15 knots.
  • Armour : Harvey belt 18 in, barbettes 17 in, turrets 15 in, secondary 8 in, CT 9 in
  • Armament : 2×2 12in (330mm), 4×2 8in (203 mm), four 6in (152 mm), twenty 6pdr (57 mm), six 1pdr (37 mm QF) and six 356 mm sub TT.
  • Crew : 586-636

ALFONSO XII (1887)
USS Alfonso
The three ships of the class Alfonso XII, were built in Spain from 1881 to 1888, the final delivery slipping largely beyond schedule due to lack of materials. Lightweight ships, they were mostly wooden hulled, reinforced with steel, they did not have armor but 12 watertight compartments along the waterline. Large 162 mm Hontoria guns were mounted laterally barbettes, and they had their fixed torpedo tubes, two in the stern, one in the bow, and two lateral, all submarines. Exceeded in 1898, they were nonetheless in use, the Alfonso XII and the Reina Mercedes are both on the mainland, and the Reina Cristina in Manila. There was also sunk by the American squadron on 1 May 1898. The other two survived until 1900 and 1907.

  • Weight & dimensions : 3042 t ; 84,42 x 13,22 x 10,60 m
  • Propulsion : Steam only – 1 screw, 1 TE Compound engine, 8 boilers, 4400 hp, 17 knots.
  • Blindage : sides max 13 mm steel plating on oak.
  • Armament : Six 152 mm, height 57 mm, six 47 mm QF, five 356 mm TT sub.
  • Crew : 370

ARAGON (1878)
Castilla, Aragon class
These three ships were designed in Spain in 1875, originally as second-class battleships. But by their weak protection and light weaponry upon a wooden construction, they appeared soon more suited as cruisers. Their construction lasted so long (launched in 1879, 1881, and completed in 1885-87) that they were nearly obsolete, retaining their venerable Armstrong smoothbore muzzle-loading 6 inches guns.
Classified as fast unprotected cruisers, or second-class cruisers, Aragon, Navarra and Castilla, built in Cartagena, Ferrol and Cadiz, they differed in weaponry, Aragon artillery was made of 6 162 mm Hontorio ML, while the two others had four Krupps of the same caliber, like their artillery left, smaller guns. The Castilla was sunk at the Battle of Manila in 1898, where she played a minor role (anchored in the harbor but deprived of its propellers, the hull protected by two rotting barges filled with sand…) and the others were withdrawn from service in 1905 and later for the Navarra, who ended her career as a training ship in 1900.

  • Weight & dimensions : 3289 t; 71,93 x 13,41 x 7,20 m
  • Propulsion : Sail and steam – 1 screw, Compound 3cyl TE engine, 4 Boilers, 4400 hp, 14 knots.
  • Armour : Max sides 25 mm
  • Armament : Four 5in (125 mm), Two 4in (120 mm), Two 7pdr and two 6pdr (87 and 76 mm), Ten 7,7 mm Mgs, two 356 mm TT.
  • Crew : 392

CRISTOBAL COLON (1897)
Cristobal Colon
The Colon was a last-minute acquisition to strengthen the fleet of Cuba. She was one of the few Italians armored cruisers successful in export (two in Japan, one in Spain, four in Argentina, in addition to the three Italians). So she was related to the Garibaldi, but had some specific features, including two 254 mm single mounts guns (one front and one rear instead of the twin 203 mm turrets). She was originally built in Genoa by Ansaldo shipyards, christened as Giuseppe Garibaldi (second in this class named after this famous national hero…) and redeemed before completion. Two 254 mm guns were to be fitted on paper, but only one when she was issued before May 16, 1897. She fought and was sunk at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, the last Italian cruiser to escape the American “trap” at the mouth of the bay, briefly duelling with the battleship USS Iowa, which lost sight of, the much faster Colon, defending herself with the single 254 mm left. But she was finally caught off coast (see Battle of Santiago de Cuba, 03/07/1898), and sunk.

  • Weight & dimensions : 7230-7980t FL ; 111,76 x 18,22 x 7,10 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts, 1 VTE engine, 24 Boilers, 14700 hp, 20 knots.
  • Armour : 138 to 50 mm
  • Armament : Single 8in (254 mm), 14 6in (152 mm), Ten 6pdr (76 mm), two MGs, four 450 mm TT.
  • Crew : 370

EMPERADOR CARLOS V (1895)
Emperador Carlos V
She was one of the most powerful ship in the spanish navy in 1898. However she was based in Spain and never had any opportunity to take action against the US fleet. This large and fast ship was built at Cadiz naval yard, and commissioned in 1898. However, she never took action against the U.S. Navy and served in 1914-18 in spain, mainly as gunnery training ship, beeing eventually scrapped in 1933.

  • Weight & dimensions : 9090t FL ; 115,82 x 20,42 x 7,62 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts, 4 cyl VTE engine, 4 Boilers, 18500 hp, 20 knots.
  • Armour : Bulkhead 240 mm, sides 160 mm, decks 51 mm, CT 305 mm
  • Armament : Two 11in (280 mm), eight 5,5in (140 mm), four 4,1in (100 mm), four 2pdr, one 1pdr QF guns, 2 Mgs, six 14in (356 mm) TT.
  • Crew : 600

AUDAZ/FUROR CLASS (1896)
Furor
Involved with the squadron of Cuba, the Furor, Terror and Pluto were in Santiago when the American squadron of Admiral Schley came to the pass leading to the port. The fierce battle that ensued saw the destruction of two of these units, the Furor and Pluton, the second after a brief but homeric artillery duel with armed yacht USS Gloucester, and then attacked by the larger guns of the main warships. The Terror was the only survivor of the fleet of Admiral Cervera. Her speed saved her. Of good construction, the other four remained in service well after the Great War: They were disarmed and demolished in 1924-31, after serving in mine-layers. The Furor and Terror were british-built, at Clydebank NY, resembling the “27 knotters”, the standard destroyers of the Royal Navy. However, they were faster and more powerful. The following year, the very same yard produced the Audaz class on the eve of the Spanish-American War. They were the Audaz, Osado, Pluto and Porcupine, and had more to do with the “30 knotters”. However they were fitted with Normand french built boilers, and Porcupine has two funnels.

  • Weight & dimensions : 400t FL ; 66,6 x 6,88 x 1,80 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts, 3cyl TE engine, 4 Norman Boilers, 7500 hp, 30 knots.
  • Armament : Two 2,5in (85 mm), four 2pdr, 2 Maxim 20 mm Mgs, two 12in (305 mm) TT.
  • Crew : 67

ISLA DE LUZON CLASS (1886)
Isla de Cuba
They were captured and recommissioned by the Americans and returned to service without change of name, but delivered as a white colonial gunboats, a rank corresponding to the reality of their dimensions. They served for Uncle Sam until 1920 for the Isla de Luzon, Isla de Cuba is sold in Venezuela in 1912. He served in the new building until 1918, and reset, renamed Mariscal Sucre yet He served until 1920. The city remained in Ensenada. She was decommissioned on an unknown date. These three tiny and unprotected cruisers, were built in Britain (Armstrong), launched in November and December 1886 for the first two, Isla de Luzon and Isla de Cuba, and Ensenada in 1887, completed much later in 1892. The first two were all scuttled at the Battle of Manila, May 1, 1898.

  • Weight & dimensions : 1030t FL ; 56,11 x 8,87 x 3,84 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts, 2 HTE engines, 2 Boilers, 1897-2697 hp, 14/15,9 knots.
  • Armour : Decks, sides, 45 mm
  • Armament : Two 4,7in (120 mm), four 2pdr, 2 Nordenfelt 25 mm Mgs, three 12in (305 mm) TT.
  • Crew : 164

JORGE JUAN (1876)
Jorge Juan
In 1898 they had their sails removed. The Barcaiztegui was wrecked after hitting a reef off Cuba in 1895 and Jorge Juan remained in Spain during the war. He was laid up at unknown date, probably before the First World War. These two wooden ships, rigged as three-masted barquentines, Jorge Juan and Sanchez Barcaiztegui, were ordered at La Seyne Navy yard in Toulon and commissioned in 1877. They were the only sloops in service in the Spanish navy.

  • Weight & dimensions : 920t FL ; 63,72 x 9 x 4,72 m
  • Propulsion : 1 shaft, 1 HTE engine, 2 Boilers, 1100 hp, 13 knots.
  • Armour : Decks, sides, 20 mm
  • Armament : Six 4,9in (158 mm), Two 6pdr, 2 Nordenfelt 25 mm Mgs.
  • Crew : 146

NUMANCIA (1865)
Numancia
In 1895, Numancia masts were shortened. Then in 1897-98, the ship was entirely rebuilt at La Seyne. Her main mast was removed, her original masts replaced by two heavy french style military masts with gunned armored tops, and received new machines, giving 13 knots. But as she was ready, the Spanish-American War ended. Numancia was used as a Coastal defence ship and then training hulk until 1906 and never left the port after 1909. She remained in commission until the early 20s and was scrapped.

  • Weight & dimensions : 7200t FL ; 96 x 17,37 x 8,22 m
  • Propulsion : 1 shaft, 1 HTE engine, 6 Boilers, 6000 hp, 13 knots.
  • Armour : Composite armour plating on oak hull, Sides, 280 mm, decks 80 mm, CT 250 mm
  • Armament : Four 5,5in (163 mm), six 4,9in (140 mm), three 4,7in, twelve Nordenfelt 25 mm Mgs, two 305 mm TT sub.
  • Crew : 400 (512 as training ship)

PELAYO (1893)
pelayo
Despite its odd design, the Pelayo was the most modern of any Spanish battleship and its potent (although slow firing) 317 mm (12,5in) long-range Schneider-Creuzot guns were more than a match for any American battleship. Canet system allowed them to be loaded in any position. In 1897 she was refitted at La Seyne with 16 more effective Niclausse boilers. A more uniform 5,5in battery was fitted. However, despite its qualities, the Pelayo remained in Spain and took no part in the conflict. This relatively modern battleship was built in france at La Seyne in 1885-87 on French plans. With her typical lozange-like artillery and single turrets with Canet system, and sloping armor, she was not well-balanced comparing to the more homogeneous American counterparts.

  • Weight & dimensions : 9745 t ; 102,04 x 20,20 x 7,58 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 12 Boilers, 9600 hp, 16,7 knots.
  • Armour : Creusot steel – belt 11,5 in, barbettes 15in, shields 3in, CT 6,5in, decks 2,5in.
  • Armament : Two 12,5in (317 mm), two 11in (280mm), one 6,4in (162 mm), Twelve 4,7in (120 mm), five 6pdr (57mm) QF Revolver, 14 Mgs, seven 356 mm sub TT.
  • Crew : 520

ARIETE (1886)
Ariete
Two Thornycroft-built torpedo-boat destroyers. Built in 1886-87 Thornycroft, two destroyers (Ariete and Rayo) first class, were the largest and fast in operation before the 1912 series. Commissioned in 1898, they were both lost by a wild fire in 1905 that was spread from one to another.

  • Weight & dimensions : 3450 t ; 78,80 x 16 x 3,40 m
  • Propulsion : Steam only – 2 screws, 2 Compound TE engines, 2 Boilers, 1300 hp, 26,5 knots.
  • Armour : none
  • Armament : Four 47 mm QF Revolver, two 356 mm bow TT, two spare torpedo reloads.
  • Crew : 25

REINA REGENTE (1887)
Reina Regente
This class was also composed of Alfonso XIII (1891) and Lepanto (1892). The latter was completed in 1895. On trial they attained 18,5 knots their natural draught (20,5 knots on forced draught). Like the previous Alfonso XII, the construction of these cruiser slept largely beyond schedule as they took 6 years to be completed. Although bigger and more effective than the Alfonso XII, They were nearly obsolete on commission.

  • Weight & dimensions : 4725 t ; 96,62 x 15,24 x 6,21 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts HTE, 8 boilers, 11 500 hp, 20,5 knots.
  • Armour : Decks 4,5in, sides 1in, gunshields 3in.
  • Armament : Four 7,9in (200 mm), six 4,7in (120mm), six 6pdr (57 mm) QF, six 20 mm Nordenfett Mgs, five 356 mm TT sub.
  • Crew : 440

TEMERARIO (1889)
Temerario
This class was also composed of Alfonso XIII (1891) and Lepanto (1892). The latter was completed in 1895. On trial they attained 18,5 knots their natural draught (20,5 knots on forced draught). Like the previous Alfonso XII, the construction of these cruiser slept largely beyond schedule as they took 6 years to be completed. Although bigger and more effective than the Alfonso XII, They were nearly obsolete on commission.

  • Weight & dimensions : 562 t; 58 x 6,76 x 3,16 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 4 boilers, 2600 hp, 19 knots.
  • Armour : Decks and bulkheads 1,5 in.
  • Armament : Four 4,7in (120mm), four 6pdr (57 mm) QF, one 25 mm Nordenfett Mg, two 356 mm TT.
  • Crew : 91

VITORIA (1865)
Victoria
Originally she was designed to bear a thirty 68pdr SB guns (approx. 250mm) broadside, but plans were altered and she was completed with a central battery of eight 9in. After her rebuilding at La Seyne, she was fitted with two military masts with small armoured tops for light Mgs. She was used as costal battleship, then training ship in 1900 to an unknown date. This sole centre battery Ironclad was built by Thames iron Works in 1863-65 and commissioned in 1866. In 1897-98 she was entirely rebuilt at La Seyne and re-commissioned too late to take part in the conflict, with the following specifications.

  • Weight & dimensions : 1152 t; 64 x 9,75 x 4,20 m
  • Propulsion : 1 shaft HC, 4 cyl boilers, 1500 hp, 13 knots.
  • Armour : none.
  • Armament : Four 4,7in (120mm), four 6pdr (57 mm) QF, one 25 mm Nordenfett Mg, two 356 mm TT.
  • Crew : 173

VIZCAYA (1890)
Vizcaya
Completed in 1890-91 they were some of the most heavily armed cruisers in the world and posed a real threat for the American fleet. However, if their protection was thick, it was not well-distributed. The armoured belt extended only two third of the total length and was narrow, the protective deck was flat and curved in the extremities but low-based, and consequently their high unprotected freeboard suffered badly during the battle of Santiago were all three were sunk. The Infanta Maria Teresa (or Vizcaya) class formed the bulk of the armoured cruiser force during the war. The class comprised also Vizcaya and Almirante Oquendo, all built at Bilbao. With a good balance of protection, armament, speed, they were seen as the best spanish warships in 1898.

  • Weight & dimensions : 6890 t; 110,94 x 19,87 x 6,6 m
  • Propulsion : 2 shafts VTE, 8 cyl boilers, 13700 hp, 20,2 knots max.
  • Armour : Belt 10-12in, barbettes 9in, CT 12in, decks 2-3in.
  • Armament : Two 11in (280 mm), Ten 5,5in (155 mm), eight 12pdr (76 mm), ten 3pdr (37 mm) QF Hotchkiss revolver, eight 25 mm Nordenfelt and two maxim Mgs, eight 356 mm TT sub.
  • Crew : 484

Anshan class destroyers

Chinese PLAN Chinese PLAN (1955)
Anshan, Fu Chun, Chang Chun, Chi Lin

The first Chinese Destroyers

The Anshan class was not an indigenous design but the new denomination of four Soviet-built vintage Gnevniy class destroyers, designed in the mid-1930s and built at Nikolayev, Dalzavod and Komsomolsk yards. There were transferred in December 1954 (two), and another pair in June 1955. These were the former Rekordny (Рекордный), Rezkiy, Reshitelny and Retivy. They had been renamed Anshan, Fu Chun, Chang Chun, and Chi Lin respectively, purchased, and later rearmed in the 1970s and modernized, then decommissioned in 1991. Anshan was written in Chinese 鞍山号; and in pinyin: Ānshān hào.

But did they were the first Chinese destroyers, really ? On records, Imperial China only took delivery of three Chang Feng class (1911 Schichau type 390t) sunk in 1937, and only relied on gunboats from then, with the exception of a single Japanese transfer to the puppet Republic or Mandchuko in 1937 as the Hai Wei (Ex Kasi), returned in 1943. On their side, southern Forces acquired the former Kagero class Yukikaze, operated disarmed, as the Tan Yang, and rearmed as it was before in 1951 as well as an extensive refit. So yes, the Type 7 destroyers -Anshan class- were the first Chinese PLAN. Many more would follow, starting with the domestic mass-built Luda class. They were also the largest PLA? ships as the only British-built Chongking cruiser was salvaged, repaired, renamed Beijing and spent the rest of its career as a stationary prestige ship, not fit to action.

Transfer

This came after the PLAN negotiated with Britain through Hong Kong for second-hand ships, which failed when the Korean War erupted. Therefore four destroyers of the pacific fleet were purchased from USSR instead with a whooping 17 tons of gold. But indeed the transfer of these partly Italian designed Gnevny-class destroyers was part of a larger deal also including the transfer of submarines, minesweepers and torpedo boats, along with Soviet instructors and plans to built Riga class frigates. At that time all four ships were worn-out veterans of ww2, the Rekordny herself having shot down two German airplanes during her service. This first ship #101 was named Anshan, after the industrial city in the province of Liaoning.

Specifications and modernization

The four ships went almost unmodified for most of their career, being only just refitted and repaired for proper service with their original armament. They had a similar problem of turbine vibrations at high speed, which could have been addressed. These were 2,040 tons fully loaded, 112.9 m (370 ft) long, 10.2 m (33 ft) wide, and with 3.8 m (12 ft) of draught, propelled by 2 shaft geared steam turbines, reaching 38 knots (70 km/h) for a 2,600 nautical miles (4,820 km) range at 20 knots (37 km/h) and a complement of 197. Their original armament comprised four single, shielded 130 mm guns, two 76 mm AA guns, four 37 mm QF autocannons, one single 20 mm, and most importantly two banks of three 533 mm TTs each. They had been somewhat lightly built for the Baltic of the black sea, and the Chinese managed to maintain these ships in good shape for a long career.

By 1971, they underwent a major overhaul at Dalian (soon “Luda”, contraction of nearby Dalian and Lushün). Boiler were changed, their electronic equipment were modernized, and more crucially, their former torpedo tubes were removed and replaced by missiles launchers (2×2) for SY-1A anti-ship missiles (some sources talks of HY-2), while their AA artillery was completely modified for four twin 37 mm autocannons. The HY-2 missiles were already obsolescent in 1971. Apparently after refit they reached a displacement of 2581 tons, their top speed falling down to 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph), not surprising after all these service years and the addition of missiles and electronic equipment. They had been renamed as Type 6607 Destroyers.

About the SY/HY missiles series
Called Silkworm by the West, Shang You or SY-series, they were derived from the Soviet P-15 Termit missile. They were low-tech missiles with limited electronics, meaning that when embarked on ships with larger electronic supplies, some shortcuts could appear when the full power was on, sometimes causing premature launches or detonations, which was answered by the later HY-serie. Produced and designed at Factory 320 (Nanchang Aircraft Factory), these received a more capable radar altimeter and the later SY-1A a mono-pulse terminal guidance radar to replace their former simple scanning radar. In full NATO terminology it was called the CSS-N-1 Scrubbrush.

The SY-2 was bulky at 6.55 m x 0.76 m with a 2.4 m wingspan, two tons, but carrying a 513 kg shaped charge high explosive at Mach 0.8 over 150 km, at 20 m controlled altitude and less to escape radars. Accuracy was estimated to be for the first kill: 70%. On the next SY-2 the former unstable engine was replaced by a solid fuel rocket engine and as the result the missile was made lighter and smaller. The warhead was changed also for a lighter time-delayed semi-armour-piercing HE charge. The serie would later go on to the HY-4 in the late 1970s, then swapped on the FL series and at least six other versions, not counting the export ones. The HY-1J were originally land-to-sea missiles developed for the type 051 destroyers (Luda).


HY-2J used by the Iraqi AF, recovered at Umm Qasr.

The land-to-ship HY-2 were identical but longer, and featured mid-mounted delta wings and three tail control surfaces. The altitude flight varied from 1000m after launch to 100-200m for the latter phase and 8m only for the terminal approach with a 90% estimated accuracy.

Service

These ships known as the “four heavenly guardians” had range and high speed limitations and therefore were replaced soon by the Luda class, and spent their career guarding the Bohai gulf area. Ashan spent 38 years with the PLAN, and was visited several foreign dignitaries as well as Chinese leaders like Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, being the proud and largest ships in service with the Navy so far. Decommissioned in April 1992 she was later moved and anchored at the Naval Museum at Qingdao, still on display today. The three other ships had differing fates. These ships were withdrawn from active service circa 1991, but the Fu Chun (#104) was retained as a stationary training vessel at the Dalian Naval Academy.

The limitations of the type, not fit for oceanic operations, led to a new domestic design in 1966 (soon without Soviet assistance), the Luda class or 051 type destroyers, carefully modelled after the Kotlin class. The design was approved in 1967 and the first keel was laid down in 1968.

Anshan class specifications (1971)

Dimensions (est.) 112.9 x10.2 x3.8 m
Displacement 2581 t FL
Crew 197
Propulsion 2 propellers, 4 geared steam turbines, 100,000 hp
Speed 34 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)
Range 4,000 nautical miles
Armament 4(4×1)x130mm, 8(4×2)x37mm, 4(2×2) SY-1A SSM, 60 mines
Sensors Radars Cross bird, Square Tie, Mina, Neptune hull mounted sonar


Large picture of the preserved #101 Anshan at Qingdao from 1992 (unknown origin, imgurl image)

Links/Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silkworm_(missile)#HY-2
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/china/anshan.htm
People’s Liberation Army Navy: Combat System Technology, 1949-2010 James Bussert, Bruce Elleman
China and International Security: History, Strategy, and 21st-Century Policy
Jane’s fighting ships 1981-82
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History – Benjamin Lai
Conways all the world fighting ships 1947-1995

Anshan class
Impression by the author of the Anshan class, Fushun (# 102) ex-Rezkiy (Gnevny class).

Manta (paper project)

Nazi Germany (1944)
Fast Attack Craft

A daring concept born from desperation

At the end of the war, Nazi Germany desperately needed new, essentially technological ways to deal with the allied steamroller, on land, air and sea. This led to an engineering fest of epic proportion, spawning some of the most amazing and advanced projects and ideas ever seen. Some were impractical, other were so advanced that they were realized twenty to fifty years afterwards. Although there are tons of records for advanced missiles, rockets, and jet planes, naval concepts were fewer in between but no less exciting to consider.

German naval secret weapons

The most advanced of these “secret weapons” was of course the superfast submarine, originally to be powered by an advanced closed loop propulsion (Walter system). But as researches dragged on, a cut was made by Albert Speer leading to the mass-production Type XXI to be propelled by a hybrid system, combining conventional diesels with twice as many batteries to double the underwater speed, a brand new streamlined hull, and snorkel. Interesting also were the mass-built mini-subs Delphin, Hecht (53), Seehund (138), Biber (324), Molch (393), human torpedoes like the Neger class (100), Marder (500) and Hai (the only prototype of a Marder enlarged by 36 meters).

German researches on hydrofoils

But one of the most amazing project of that era of 1944-45 was the array of fast surface ships using jets, catamaran hulls, or hydrofoils. Hans von Schertel worked before and during the war on many such prototypes and paper projects aimed at replacing the traditional S-boote and R-boote. The idea was such kind of ship were so fast they could not be destroyed, either for launching torpedoes or laying mines.

VS6 hydrofoil
VS 6

Attack Hydrofoil VS 6

These innovative fast attack crafts were the brainchild of Baron Hanns von Schertel, and realized by shipbuilder Sachsenberg. The prototype was tested in 1941. It was a 17-ton vessel, capable of 47 knots (80 kph) and laying mines. 52.5 feet in length, it was powered by two Hispano-Suiza gasoline engines of 560 hp each.

The Tietjens VS-7 followed, this time designed by Oscar Tietjens. It was largely based on a 1932 prototype with a patented surface-piercing hoop foil system, tested with success in the USA. The light vessel was able to reach 25 mph with a 5 hp outboard engine. The VS-7 largely emulated the previous VS-6, built at Schleswig, Germany, Vertens Yacht Yard. Also 17 tons, about the same specs, but fitted with these revolutionary hoop foils. It was tried and reached a blazing 55 knots (101 kph) but was found slow to accelerate and had poor handling and maneuverability.

VS-8
VS 8

Transport Hydrofoil VS 8

One of the most remarkable project of the time was the fast transport VS 8, which could carry and land a light tank Type 38T up to a Panzer IV, stored on a tailored back deck, which was flooded as the self-propelled pontoon reached the beach (two 40 hp engines) with its load, in less than two minutes. This vessel was propelled by a 1800 hp Mercedes Benz diesel, not up to the task.
Other applications has been as an fast minelayer with 15-20 mines. The VS8, ordered in 1940 was commissioned on 01.03.1943 but was found underpowered and the project was dropped after September 1944 total engine failure and failed rescue, apparently also a casualty due to sabotage. The VS9 ordered in 1941 was never started.

VS-8
Hydrofoil “VS 8” at Sachsenber-Shipyard- Picture from Fock Schnellboote Vol. 2

The following VS-10 was even larger, at 46-tons, 92 feets long, 60 knots and torpedo-carrying. The prototype was completed and made ready for launch but completely destroyed in an air raid just a few days before it could happen.

The final TR5b or TRAGFLÜGELBOOT was probably the most advanced of all these. It combined to a rather conventional hull twin turbojets Jumo 004s or He S 011s and three VS-type foils which housed the propellers. That way, the propellers helped reaching the final attack phase, and to escape. Tests were performed in 1944 with a radio-controlled jet powered boat, the Tornado, which showed calm sea was required. K-Verband once planned the building start in early 1945, only to cancel it as low priority compared to more immediately useful and simpler vessels.


Size comparison with a German SdKfz.234 reconnaissance car

Camouflaged Manta UGC
Reconstruction in what-if camouflage


Second fictional livery, with periscopes up

UGS Manta: Origins

The Manta was an even more extreme prototype, that found its origins in the collaboration between the Walter facility and Versuchskommando 456. Named Untersee-Gleitflächen-Schnellboot Manta or UGS Manta, it was driven by the limitations of midget submarines, speed and range limitations, and the drag caused by the torpedoes when underwater. The obvious solution was to have these in the air instead, meaning this was to led to a completely new type of craft.

The Manta which resulted from these researches looks stunning in its radical aproach, and the only possible comparison were the 1960-1980s Ekranoplanes series built for the Soviet Navy. Indeed, that kind of hybrid between a plane and a ship used a well-known fluid property, the “wing-in-ground effect”, which allowed for a very large plane (the “Caspian Monster” remains the largest “plane” ever built in that occurrence), much longer than the 747, C5 Galaxy or Antonov An-225 Mriya at 92.00 m (301 ft 10 in) and heavier at 240 tons. A small serie of operational anti-ship and landing versions were operational in the 1980s and we will dig soon into these interesting crafts.

General description

The Manta only used this effect when in surface to lower drag at its minimum, thanks to a trimaran configuration: Three cylindrical hulls and large vertical keels/tanks that captured the air flow under the main wing when up. However the acronym is loosely translated as “Submarine sliding speedboat”, in fact these were indeed submarines unlike the Soviet Ekranoplanes, and only raised above the surface thanks to the keel/tanks that provided buoyancy. When above water (final phase of the attack), the Manta could reach 50 knots (93 kph) which made it difficult to hit, in addition presenting a rather hollow frontal target. It can then launch up to eight torpedoes.

Mockup model of the UCS Manta
Mockup model of the UCS Manta

Design

Basically the Manta was made of three tube-like hulls linked by a main wing and two vertical keels. The central tube was housing the two-men crew cabin (each had a bubble-like canopy) and contained the diesel-electric propulsion and diesel-hydraulic transmission to link these to the lower keels propeller. The outer cylinders are Schwertwal-I type, but with the batteries, fuel tanks filled with Ingolin, trim tanks and compensating tanks. The wing was divided into an upper and lower part and sandwiched in between were located the tow to eight torpedoes, or 8 TMA or 12 TMB mines. These were the same as the rest of the midget submarine fleet, aviation type, 450 mm in diameter, or the larger marine type (four carried). mines. They could also carry 4 “projectiles”* which are not precisely described but would have been likely heavy rockets.


Three-view drawing of the Manta, from the model.

The Manta was about 15 m long, 6 m wide, with 1.5 m diameter cylinders, and weighted 15 tons empty/ 50 tons loaded. This was compensated by two 600 hp engines or 800 hp Walter turbines coupled with 440 Kw electric motors. The maximum surface speed was noted as 50 kts, the maximum submerged speed: 30 kts (55 kph) which was impressive enough. Range was 200 nm @50 kts/600 nm @20 kts on the surface, and 120 nm @30 kts/500 nm @10 kts when submerged.

Navigation equipment was similar to that of the Schwertwal, and safety equipment was well-thought with marker buoy with an antenna, self-inflating dinghy and special diving suits. In addition, the crew could jettison the two very heavy electric batteries from the keels, providing extra buoyancy, and helping the craft when submerged, to reach more easily the surface in emergency.

When surfacing, the propulsion mode is even more exotic you can think: With less drag, the speed was to be in excess of 90 kph and the keels where not even supposed to surf, but to roll over the waves thanks to four encased massive aviation wheels. This way, the drag was even more limited and at that speed the water surface was hard enough for the Manta to roll over. For extra lift there were two extra pairs of foils, for and aft of the keels before the wheels took over.

The ultimate naval V-weapon

The Manta was a submarine/flying/fast attack craft way ahead of its time. In fact, it left the paper phase, but only for a small mockup model stage. All documents produced after the Kleinst-U-Bootwaffe (Miniature Submarine Command) blessed this project has been burnt. Only the model remained, which was used to draw 3-view blueprints after the war.

Would those had been built in numbers prior to June 1944, they could have disable or destroy many allied ships assembled at the D-Day landings. Only AA anti-artillery would have been fast enough to catch these when surfaced, provided they had the right depression. Does this idea still means something today ? The Russian Ekranoplanes are mothballed, FAC hydrofoils has been retired for the most as well as hovercrafts that are known gas-guzzlers. This kind of submarine/wing-in-ground craft was only meant to deal the enemy with torpedoes, that is too dangerously close to be safe when modern sensors/radars can spot you early on, and when missiles and deadly accurate 57 to 120 mm fast to 30 mm CIWS superfast cannons (Phalanx-type) are aiming at you.

However the same concept applied to a missile-launching craft is much more appealing. Indeed, these could approach the enemy’s inner radar/outer sonar detection limits and try a saturation fire after surfacing. The enemy ships could have quickly fired back missiles and destroy the bogeys, but MACH 3 missiles in large numbers within reach would had left little time to respond, especially if the attacking crafts are coated and stealthy shaped.

UGS Specifications
Dimensions 15 x6 m, hull diam. 1.5 m
Displacement 15 – 50t FL
Crew 2
Propulsion 2 props, 2x 600 hp diesels, 2x 440 Kw elect. mot.
Speed 50 knots/sub 30 knots (90 km/h; 55 mph)
Range 200 nm @50 kts/600 nm @20 kts, 500 nm @10 kts sub
Diving depth 50-60 m
Armament 2-8 Torpedoes or 8/12 TMA/TMB mines or 4 rockets


Reminds something ?

Sources, Links

http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/ships/landingcrafts/vs8/
http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/ships/fastattack/tb5/index.html
http://strangevehicles.greyfalcon.us/TR.htm
http://strangevehicles.greyfalcon.us/Manta.htm
http://www.foils.org/trag.htm
http://www.self.gutenberg.org/article/WHEBN0022555488/K-Verband
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Choroszy-Models-1-72-MANTA-TORPEDO-UGS-BOAT-Untersee-Gleitflachen-Schnellboot-/361024778094

Battle of the Falklands (8 December 1914)

German Navy vs Royal Navy
8 December 1914

British Revenge over Von Spee

Just as Newsweek frontpage stated in 1982, the “Empire Strikes Back” in December 1914. Like then and earlier, the Royal Navy departed for the Falklands. This remote, cold corner of the South Atlantic, not far from the Argentinian coast and infamous Cape Horn, was the theater of the last battle of Admiral Maximilian Von Spee, after a long and successful -if not legendary- cruise throughout the pacific. His Pacific squadron indeed concluded its odyssey back home by sinking the only obstacle in its way -Admiral Cradock’s Falklands squadron, which was soundly defeated at Coronel in November, off the Chilean coast (battle of Coronel). That was also the first naval defeat of the Royal navy since a century, which could not be left unaddressed. The mood felt like after the sinking of the Hood in 1941, the entire Royal Navy focused on taking revenge.


HMS Invincible

Von Spee’s next move

The purpose of the German Admiral then was to make his squadron pass into the South Atlantic, where he intended to attack Britain’s commercial traffic with Argentina (meat) and Chile (nitrate), and Possibly to join the metropolitan fleet. The route was free for Spee, who after a short stop at Valparaiso, where he embarked many exiled Germans (for a return to Germany), and after consulting the Naval HQ by the intermediary of the embassy, warning him against this project, he set course to the south. On the way, he captured four tall ships, before passing Cape Horn with his entire squadron on December 2nd. The initial route, passing 100 miles to the south to avoid being spotted from the coast, had to be abandoned because his worn out light cruisers couldn’t cope with very rough seas, even after it was necessary to throw over tons of Charcoal to lighten the hulls and avoid “plow share” effects. The squadron, therefore, returned twenty miles from the coast, and passed through less troubled weather.

SMS Scharnhost
SMS Scharnhorst

The Royal Navy mobilize

Meanwhile, the outcry caused by Coronel’s defeat caused some heads rolling in the Admiralty: Fisher took the lead as first Lord, immediately establishing a plan to join the Falklands with superior forces. He mobilized the two Invincible class battlecruisers, plus the HMS Queen Mary, previously sent to the West Indies in order to intercept Von Spee, although the latter managed to get through the British net. Eventually the Mediterranean fleet based at Gibraltar was mobilized, despite what the Dardanelles operations required, was scrambled and put in alert to intercept the German forces in case they attempted to reach the North Atlantic.


Postumhous symbolic funerals of Admiral Sir Cradock in port Stanley after the battle of Coronel.

Frederick Doveton Sturdee The Royal Navy solicited half of the available battlecruisers force and the two aforesaid, commanded by Vice-Admiral Sturdee, set sail for the Falklands. Fisher projected that Von Spee should probably try to take the Falklands first, settle there in order to launch raids on the British traffic. Therefore it was vital to get there before him. In addition, local authorities send a message by telegraphy (captured by Spee) confirming the departure HMS Canopus for South Africa where a revolt would have broken out. The message was a forgery, and Spee, after crossing Cape Horn, capturing a British sailboat to refuel, lost three days and left the auxiliary steamer fleet in the maze of islands of this area, thinking he could land a party to take Port Stanley.

Sturdee arrived at the Falklands

At 7:30 am, Studee’s squadron arrived at the Falklands, before Spee, who unknowingly ran into a trap. Immediately the ships resupplied because Sturdee was asked by Fisher to resume his search for the German squadron as soon as possible. What Spee knows then, however, is that a Japanese squadron is at his heels from the Pacific, so no return is possible. Sturdee, who is unaware of Von Spee’s crossing on December, 2, still thinks he can find him before his crossing of Cape Horn. The black fumes of the German squadron are spotted by an English lookout. Immediately the alarm is raised, but the ships are in bad position, still coaling, their machines are cold, barges are at couple.

HMS Invincible racing towards the Falklands
HMS Invincible racing towards the Falklands

The two fleets spots each other

Fortunately for them Von Spee had at that time only have his vanguard with the Gneisenau and Nürnberg, and has to wait for the rest of his ships to catch up. Moreover, form that afar, if he spots masts and funnels, he does not identify which ships are present. On the British side, only the HMS Canopus is available immediately for action, the light cruisers Bristol and Glasgow whereas the cruisers Carnarvon, Cornwall and Kent, are also taking supplies. At 9:20 am, HMS Canopus, been deliberately stranded on a sand bank with the tide for stability, opened fire at 11,000 meters while everywhere else crews feverishly prepared for action. Spee had a unique opportunity to change things by sinking the Kent, sailing a parallel course to the exit of the harbor, which could have blocked Port Stanley. Joined by the rest of his forces, he could have the shelled the trapped, immobile English squadron while keeping his mobility.

Map of the battle of the Falklands, 1914

The battle starts

However at war, nothing unfolds according to plan. Hans Pochammer, captain of the SMS Gneisenau, eventually identified and signaled to Von Spee the presence of the two English battlecruisers, spotting their tripod masts. For the British squadron, the weather was superb and visibility was perfect, and the crew just achieved a lightning fast preparation. Henceforth, all ships freed themselves of their moorings, ascended the anchors, while a black smoke rose above them. One can imagine then the effect produced by seven black plumes, while Von Spee expected to find not a single ship in Port Stanley!


HMS Canopus, firing the opening shots of the battle

The Admiral knew that his units were no match for battlecruisers, much more powerful and faster. Furthermore the Canopus then was hidden, firing from behind a hill, so it was invisible Von Spee’s lookouts, saving Sturdee valuable time. When the HMS Kent finally set sail for the harbour’s entrance, the whole squadron followed her. At 10:00 am, a “general hunt” flag climb to the mast of the Invincible, and the British squadron prepare to laid waste to the rest of Spee’squadron, the last ships arriving in the meantime. The latter renounced duelling with Kent. Aware of of the upcoming challenge, he ordered his light cruisers to escape. He was going to make a fighting retreat with his two armoured cruisers…

Duelling

Sturdee, whose two battlecruisers reach 25 knots versus 22 for the Germans, caught them at 12:47 and opened fire at maximum elevation. The first sheaves fall near the Leipzig, but despite the perfectly flat sea, spotters are embarrassed by the torrents of greasy smoke coming out of the funnels, the engines being pushed full throttle. It is more than 13:00 PM when the Gneisenau receives three hits. Through the roof of the 210 mm casemate aft starboard, the middle deck, and the ammunition hold which had to be drowned in emergency. While the distance allowed to fire back, the Germans could not replicate, their targets being Masked by smoke. They managed eventually to hit the HMS Invincible, only a slight damage. The two armoured cruisers then attempted to change course, but the British seemed not to notice it. The German’s new position is however betrayed by HMS Carnarvon, which spotted the move. The duel resumed, but the British are still not close enough and fires at wide elevation. Shells following a parabolic trajectory penetrated the poorly protected bridges of both German Cruisers. In addition, Sturdee detached his three cruisers to chase the Leipzig and the Nürnberg out.


Russian map of the battle

Deadly broadsides

The two battlecruisers then managed to present a broadside, being able to go take a parallel course to the German line at around 3:00 pm, while Spee could do nothing but come closer in order to replicate, exposing him even more. Around 3:30 pm, Spee enjoyed an unexpected and almost supernatural respite: A large white three-masted tall ship coming from nowhere crossed the route of the English battlecruisers, which -maritime code obliged- altered course and slowed to let it pass, sail having priority over steam !… The latter thanked them courteously as in regatta time. But a few minutes later, firing resumed, Sturdee willing to wrap it up before day’s fall. At 4:00 pm, the two German cruisers has been hit many times more by heavy caliber, were prey of flames, in particular the Scharnhorst which bears the mark of the Admiral. The latter now targeted by the two British ships, became a raging inferno and a wreck, signalling to the Gneisenau by searchlight to try to escape. At 4:04 Spee’s ship was slowed down, heeling heavily, her chimneys all crippled and the artillery muted.


Peak of the battle, the Scharnhost capsizes, the Gneisenau flees.

Spee’s final stand

What passed through Spee’s mind at that time ? He brought her flagship closer to his adversaries as if trying to launch a torpedo attack or even try to ram them. The British ships after trying to decipher the move unleashed a full broadside, secondary guns included, and put a quick end to the Maneuver: At 4:17 pm, the proud Scharnhorst began to sink forward rapidly, disappearing with 795 crewmen, including the two sons of the admiral. If that was not cruel enough, survivors are condemned to drawn or freeze to death: In their haste to finish off the squadron, the British ships immediately aimed at the fleeing Gneisenau, not stopping. Around 5:15 pm, the latter exhausted all his ammunition while receiving new hits: She could not sustain more than 16 knots. The two battlecruisers then separated, the Invincible passing by the front at 10,000 meters crossing the T, while the other sailed for the other side of the German ship. At 5:20 pm, SMS Gneisenau, silenced and immobilized, bunkers submerged, began to list. Major Maerker decided to evacuate and scuttle her. The Gneisenau would capsize at 5:35 PM, but this time 190 survivors would be recovered in time from the icy waters (famous photo), including Captain Pochammer, telling later the battle from the German perspective.

Job not done

If the battle of the Falklands seems over, for Sturdee, it’s “job not done”. There are still two light cruisers left to be caught and sent to the bottom. The Dresden meanwhile has taken very early a south-west heading. Three British ships are in hot pursuit, including the two old battleships. The Germans still have good hope: They are 12 miles ahead and night is coming. HMS Kent, however, which chases the Nürnberg, is older and slower, but pushed its engines beyond maximal designed speed, all boilers red hot. The ship managed to reach 25 knots, two more than what is normal. For her part the German cruiser was to make due with worn out machines subjected to heavy strain since the month of August, plus human exhaustion.


SMS Nürnberg

Nürnberg’s end

At 5:30 pm, it’s nearly game over, as Nürnberg’s commander believes that he could no longer flee more from an enemy while under fire and not at least trying to replicate. He changed course and engaged the fight. The duel was to the advantage of the British armoured cruiser, better armed and protected. In spite of this, the Nürnberg closed at 2700 meters – close range at cruiser standard – bearing all its pieces. In one hour and a half the German ship hit fourty times, but the well-protected British cruiser had only a few wounded and one dead to deplore, while the Nuremberg is devastated.

At 6.30 pm, the German cruiser indeed had suffered two boiler outbreaks, speed falling down to a few knots, and had no steering. At 7:00 pm, she had exhausted all her ammunition and was in flames from bow to stern. The commander had the colors struck down to allow his men evacuating without being shelled. The cruiser started to list quickly and at 7:27 pm capsized and sank. Survivors, few in number because the duel had been a slaughterfest, were only 17 to take place aboard Kent’s two only yoals… Her other boats had been riddled with shrapnel during the fight and were unusable.


HMS Glasgow

Glasgow’s revenge

The SMS Leipzig meanwhile was chased by HMS Glasgow, survivor of the battle of Coronel. Suffering the same worn out conditions, the older German cruiser is caught and 150 mm shells rain down its tail. The commander of the German ship decided to drop the distance voluntarily and turn to engage a duel with its own 105 mm pieces. An artillery exchange on semi-parallel chasing course then engaged, but thanks to its superior speed, the British cruiser gradually reduced the gap with the Leipzig, finding a parallel course offering a full broadside. The German ship handicapped by its light shells was heavily pounded, and the situation turned worse as the Cornwall, just catching up entered the fray and opened fire. The latter added not less than fourteen 6 in guns, so the duel turned into a real execution…


SMS Leipzig

Leipzig’s end

Soon the Leipzig lost its front sights while the central steering wheel steering post has been disabled, receiving only orders by voice relayed in chain until the end. Leipzig’s artillery pieces are also shut down one after the other. But the cruiser still stood firm despite the rain of steel and the duel went on, amazingly, for two more hours with all guns available. At 19:00, she only had left her torpedoes, but then maneuvered only at 16 Knots and the torpedoes missed their targets. The commander decided to scuttle the ship, survivors climbing onto the deck.


Damage on the HMS Kent after the battle

Through Glasgow’s sights, observers wonders: The German cruiser was no longer moving, and its crew hidden by the smoke of the fires, was invisible on the deck. Crucially no pavilion rose to the apple of her only remaining mast. The British were even unaware that the crippled cruiser had launched its last torpedoes and was completely defenseless. Therefore still considering the ship a threat, they decided to open fire, making a carnage on the deck. Immediately, fault of a flag, two flares of distress are fired. The British ships ceased fire and boats were laid down. But before arriving, the burning carcass of what was the Leipzig capsized and sank rapidly leaving only 18 shocked survivors.


SMS Dresden

Epilogue

That was the end of the battle. Indeed, the Dresden was in fact the only cruiser able to escape. She succeeded in reaching the maze of islands of the Terra de Fuego, hiding in for a while. She went off by March 14, 1915, and without orders nor hope to return home or finding a suitable base to attempt raids in the Atlantic, had no other alternative than to present the white flag to the first warship on sight. The commander thus spared the lives of his men, avoiding a final useless sacrifice.


Survivors of the Gneisenau being rescued by the Inflexible

For the British, who have cleared Coronel’s heavy blow on Royal Navy’s prestige, victory is total. They only deplored a few dead and injured on the Invincible, Kent and Glasgow but not a single loss on the Inflexible and Cornwall. But above all, the German presence elsewhere than in the North Sea comes to an end. Any threat to the precious blood lines of the empire disappears for long (until the submarine threat became obvious). The few remaining isolated units would be cornered and sunk, and by mid-1915 the only remaining German naval forces would be permanently confined to the Baltic, with the Skagerrak strait shut. Only submersibles would from then on try to reverse the situation, reaching a new height with the the loss of the Lusitania and its consequences. That was the end of a major naval chapter in ww1.

Sources/Read more

http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/falklandislands.htm
https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-the-falkland-islands-2361388
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-battle-of-the-falkland-islands
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Falkland_Islands

Battle of the Falkland Islands


J.J. Antier & Paul Chack, Histoire maritime de la première guerre mondiale

American Torpedo Boats (1885-1901)

USA – 35 boats

Prologue: Early precursors (1800-1870s)

The invention of the “Torpedo”

Of course the torpedo was invented only in 1866 by Robert Whitehead, so just a year after the end of the Civil War, but the prototype was first created in 1863 by the Austro-Hungarian officer Ivan Lupis. Called salvacoste it has many shortcomings that were solved by Whitehead and made practical. Before that, the “torpedo” named after an electric ray sub-specy was essentially a naval mine. A towed gunpowder charge was first tested operationally by Robert Fulton in 1800 with its submarine Nautilus. There were other attempts of mining ships in the war of 1812, in the Crimean War in 1855.


USS Spuyten Duyvil, US Navy dedicated spar-torpedo vessel, 1863.

Torpedo ships of the American Civil War

But a real impetus came from the American Civil War, in particular with air-filled demijohn and powder charges that exploded on contact, later carried by spars. The spar-torpedo boat became in effect a precursor of the torpedo-boat, as the carrier was generally small and fast. That was a dangerous endeavor, reckless and desperate form of warfare to say the least, practiced by the Confederates to try to balance the huge advantage of the Union navy.


An enlarged CSS David was started, but captured at Charleston in 1865 before completion.

USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 by such contact mine. 30 feet (9.1 m) long spar was also carried by the HL Hunley, first “submarine” (propelled by a manned crankshaft). Despite sinking twice (with all hands), the innovative boat succeeded in destroying USS Housatonic.

HL Hunley
HL Hunley, the most famous Confederate submarine

CSS David
CSS David, famous Confederate torpedo-ram


CSS David daguerreotype


USS Spuyten Duyvil. Despite its overwhelming superiority on the Confederates, the Union navy also built a spar-torpedo boat in 1964.


USS Alligator, 1862. This Union fleet (and first American sub) boat was capable of operating divers, carrying two limpet mines.

CSS Atlanta
Confederate river ironclad CSS Atlanta (1863), carrying a spar torpedo at the front.

CSS Chicora
Confederate river ironclad CSS Chicora (1862), carrying a spar torpedo at the front.

Other ships of the “Old Navy”

After the famous Monitor, the US Navy built other, less known classes like the Passaic, Miantonomoh, Canonicus, Kalamazoo, Milwaukee, Casco or the remarkable Dictator, a sea going monster. But other smaller ships has been converted to be used as torpedo rams, notably to destroy Confederate boats barrages on the James River. In addition to the Spuyten Duyvil (see above), two large experimental, iron-hulled ships were also built after the war in 1873, the Alarm and Intrepid. Both were too slow for their intended role.


USS Alarm, 1873 spar-torpedo vessel.

Unusual ships of the “New Navy”

Two interesting ships were built in the 1880-90s, one was not torpedo-carrying but experimented with another idea: launching dynamites with pneumatic guns. The USS vesuvius (we will come back on this very unique design) had three Zalinsky 55 feets pneumatic guns at the front on an open barbette. The projectiles weighted 980 Ibs, with 500 Ibs dynamite warheads. Launched in 1888 its only action with the not convincing bombardment of Santiago ten years later. However the USS Katahdin could have been a torpedo-ram in the European tradition. Launched in 1893, it had a very sloped hull, cigar-shaped, with a iron hulled backed by wood. But instead of TTs or a spar, she was fitted with four 6-pdr quick firing guns. Its most interesting feature was its hull was fitted with ballasts so she could be submerged before ramming.


Spanish destroyer Furor. The American Civil War broke out in 1898, but none of the commissioned TBs were ever put to action due to the distance both of Cuba and the Philippines. They did provide however an harbor coastal defence in the unlikely case of a retaliation by the metropolitan Spanish Navy on the US Coast.

American Torpedo Boats (1885-1899)


The famous Stiletto was not a very successful boat. Its contemporary namesake is an Experimental stealthy pentamaran capable of 60 knots.

A short lived experiment

For 15 years, the US Navy ventured into this kind of boat, not without reticence as many in the fleet advocated not for a defensive but more “active” stance on the international scene. Indeed Alfred Thayer Mahan became president of the Naval War College by default in 1886 and befriended with future president Theodore Roosevelt in 1888. Both had the same views about the duty of the US Navy. But whatever the case, by 1895 TBs were definitely out of the picture as the first American destroyers, more promising, took their place. The move was decidedly towards a “fleet in being”.

US Navy TBs Specifics

There are nevertheless specifics about American TBs. First, series were largely semi-experimental, with gradual improvements on small orders of 2-3 ships. In total, 35 had been built, and many were one-off experiments. The lightest has been the first Stiletto at 31 tons, the heaviest were the Nicholson serie, of 218 tonnes. Their average displacement was about 160 tons. They were fitted with either Thornycroft, Normand, Mosher or Seabury or locomotive boilers, used VTE engines (vertical triple expansion) and in rare cases, VQE (Quadruple expansion). The fastest has been the Dahlgren, at 31 knots, but average speed was 25 knots.


Stiletto, the first American TB.

Standard armament was composed of two to three 18 in Torpedo Tubes and one to three 1-pdr QF guns. They nearly all presented a front turtleback and some tumblehome all along their hull because of expected North Atlantic rough seas. Their average range however only allowed for short sorties of 50 miles, due to limited coal supplied, reaching 80 tonnes on the Nicholson.

Shipyards

They were many small shipyards involved, some more than the others. The most active in this area was Herreshoff, which turned seven TBs, including the first one, and will later rose to fame as the builders of eight consecutive successful defenders of the America’s Cup from 1893 to 1934. There is a museum accessible from Providence and Boston. Bath Iron Works (Kennebec River, Bath, Maine), launched five ships, Columbian iron Works (Baltimore, Maryland) five, followed by less known yards like Iowa Iron works (TB2), Moran (TB8), Wolff & Zwicker (TB12-13), Charles Hillman (TB17), George Lawley (TB27-28), Lewis Nixon (T29-30), WR Trigg (TB-31-33), and Gas Engine & Power and CL Seabury (which also built boilers) delivered the very last one, USS Wilkes alias TB35 in 1901. Only one was delivered by a foreign yard, world’s famous specialist Schichau in 1897, USS Somers, commissioned just a few days before the Spanish-American War.


USS Stiletto, illustration by the author

To simplify things, we will treat these TBs in three series: The “small” and “medium” TBs prior the the Spanish-American war of 1898 and the large post-war models of the Blakely class commissioned up to 1905.

The “light group” 1886-1898


USS Cushing, TB1.

USS Stiletto
The first one was called WTB1 to mark its experimental nature. Laid down at Herreshoff in 1885, launched in 1886 and commissioned in 1887 it was small (28.64 x 3.50 x 0.91m, 31 tons), had a flat deck, ram, but no TT. Instead it carried two Howell torpedoes, but only from 1898. It was fitted with an Almy boiler coupled with a vertical compound engine that turned a unique shaft, produced 395 ihp for a whooping 18.5 knots. Coal was limited to just four tons, and coastal rides. Shortly after its introduction in service, it was stranded ashore after a collision with a steam launch. This was a single funnel, wood-hulled boat that was confined to runs and experimental works. Bad steamer, her 1897 fuel trials were a failure. After being mothballed for some years, she was sold for scrap in 1911.


USS De Long.

Coastal TBs of the Talbot & Mackenzie class
Among the smallest American TBs, these two classes (Talbot, Gwin, Mackenzie, McKee) were authorized under the act of 10.6.1896. The first two (Herreshoff) had a single funnel, two single TTs far apart – one front of the funnel, one aft, and were both commissioned in April 1898. The Gwin was later used as a Ferry as Cyane in 1914 while the other was used from 1900 for oil fuel tests and decommissioned in 1925.


USS MacKenzie.

The two MacKenzie were quite different, 65 tons, same length at 30.94m but larger at 3.89m vs 3.81m, but the latter had a larger draught at 1.29 m vs. 0.99m. They also had Thornycroft instead of Normand boilers. Apart their two funnels and same three 18 in TTs, they had all a single 1-pdr gun but the USS McKee which had two. They also had two funnels. Both served as target ships, from 1912 (MacKee) and 1916 (MacKenzie).


USS Talbot, TB15

Talbot class specifications

Dimensions 30.48 x3.81 x0.99 m
Displacement 46t FL
Crew 12
Propulsion 1 screw, 1 VTE, 2 Normand boilers, 850 ihp
Speed 20 knots (38 km/h; xx mph), coal 9 tons
Armament 2 TT 18 in, 1 x1pdr QF gun.

USS Foote, illustration by the author

The “medium group” prior to 1898

This was by far the largest, with the singls USS Cushing, Ericsson, Rowan, Morris, and Somers, and the classes Foote, Porter, Dahlgren, and Davis.


USS Dahlgren, TB9.

USS Cushing
The first official TB commissioned for service was the TB1, built by the same yard after many design revisions. It was laid down in April 1888, launched in January 1890 and completed in April the same year. She had two funnels far apart, ram bow, turtle back (the first), two broadside training 18 in TTs, and one fixed forward into the bow. Armament was heavy, with three 6-pdr guns. The TB1 was sunk as a practice target in 1920. She was used for experimental work.


USS Cushing, starboard side, 1891.

USS Ericsson (1894) was heavier (120 rather than 116 tons), and very similar but for its armament back to three lighter 1-pdr guns. It can reach 24 knots. From 1912 it was used as a target and sunk.

The Foote class (1896) comprised also the Rodgers and Winslow. They were commissioned in 1897-98. They had two funnels far apart, three TTs on each broadside and a third aft, and three 1-pdr gun. 142 tons, 48.76 m long, and two had Mosher instead of Thornycroft boilers but two shafts for 2000 ihp, and can run at 25 knots. They were sold in 1911-1920.

The Porter class (1896) from Herreschoff were 165 tons, 53.50 m long (175 feets) ships capable of 27.5 knots and armed with four 1-pdr guns. The first was sold in 1912, the second in 1920.

The Dahlgren class (1899) were 146 tons boats, 46.13 m long (151 feets), with a different armament of four 1-pdr but only two TTs, centerline, aft and far aft. They had Normand boilers and were the fastest of them all, reaching 1 knots. Details of their superstructure and funnels were also reminiscent of French designs. The Craven ended as target in 1913, the other served through WW1.

The Davis class (1898) comprised also the USS Fox (TB-13). These 1550 tons ships had two vertical triple expansion engines, coupled with Thornycroft boilers and were capable of 23 knots. They had three TTs in the usual disposition. Fox was sold in 1916, the other in 1920 after being decommissioned in 1913.

USS Rowan was a 182 tons ship authorized under the act of 2.3.1895, and had funnels and TTs arranged like the Porter, but a raised forecastle. She was decommissioned in 1912 but only sold in 1918.

USS Morris was a relatively light TB of 105 tons, 42.35 m (139’6”) long, with two funnels not far apart, and Normand boilers. She was capable of 23 knots and carried the usual armament of three TTs and three 1-pdr guns.

The USS Somers was German built at Schichau, as a private speculation, carried by the steam SS Manhattan on its way to US waters. She had a single funnel and three masts, two training TTs on the deck, and one submerged TT at the bow. It was 17.5 m (156 feets) long for 143 tons and its locomotive boilers fed a VQE engine which developed 1700 ihp, for 23 knots. Like other TBs in reserved she was renamed TB N°9 to left the name for a new destroyer.


USS Foote.

Post war group: USS Blakeley class

This relatively homogeneous class counted the USS Blakely , USS DeLong, Nicholson, O’Brien, Shubrick, Stockton, Thornton, Tingey, and Wilkes (TB-27-35). They were assimilated because of the same 04.05.1898 order, but differed as much as their shipyards own specs: Their displacement ranged from 165 (Tingey) to 220 tonnes (O’Brien), but all measured 53.35 meters overall and 5.38 m in width (175′ and 17’8”) but with a underwater height of 1.42 to 1.98 m (6’6”). Their armament was also uniform, with the same three 18 in TTs (port, starboard, far aft) and three 1-pdr QF guns, but three 3-dpr for the Shubrick sub-class (Stockton, Thornton). Average top speed was 25 knots but Wilkes was the faster of them all, at 27 knots.


USS Blakeley, TB-27 underway off Grant’s tomb.

Nicholson sub-class specifications

Dimensions 53.35 x5.18 x1.96 m
Displacement 218-220 tons FL
Crew 28
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 shafts VTE, 3 Mosher boilers, 3000 ihp
Speed 25 knots (47 km/h; xx mph), coal 80 tons
Armament 3 TT 18 in, 3 x1pdr QF guns.


USS Fox, David class (TB-13), 1898.

American TBs in ww1

About 20 were left in service when the war broke out. Some were quickly converted as target ships, others were just mothballed and played no significant part in the operations but potentially some coastal patrols. They were not equipped for ASW warfare in any case. A good example of an “active carrer” was the USS Tingey (TB-34): She joined the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla (Norfolk Navy Yard), laying tied up at pier side, doing a few sorties to ensure its operational readiness. By 1908, she was part of the 3d Torpedo Flotilla, and next year “the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet”. She moved however late this year to Charleston, S.C., staying in reserve. In 1917, she was sent to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and decommissioned from 8 March to 7 April 1917. She patrolled the coastal waters of the 1st Naval District and was eventually renamed in September 1918 “Coast Torpedo Boat No. 17”, then decommissioned at Philadelphia on 30 January 1919, struck from the list and sold. USS Gwin and Morris survived until 1924-25.


USS MacKenzie.

Epilogue

Although the story of American TBs prior to ww1 seems like a footnote, quickly swapping over long-range destroyers instead, there was a revival of the concept in WW2, at the occasion of the Pacific War, shaped as the mass-built “PT boat” from Elco, Higgins and assimilated wooden type Motor torpedo boats, which disrupted Japanese shipping and sunk many military ships.

Gallery


USS Stiletto.


USS Bagley (TB-24), the first to carry a floatplane.


USS David (TB-12).


USS Ericsson.


USS Bailey, TB-21.


USS Farragut, TB-11 off Mare Island Navy Yard circa 1899.


USS Goldsborough, TB-20.


USS Manley (TB-23), mothballed.


USS Porter (1898).


USS Morris, TB-14.


USS Rowan – TB-8.


USS Stringham (TB-19).


USS Somers (TB-22).

Sources

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WTUS_PreWWII.php
http://www.warboats.org/EarlyPatrolBoats.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_torpedo_boats_of_the_United_States_Navy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo

Orion class Battleships (1911)

United Kingdom (1911)
Orion, Monarch, Conqueror, Thunderer.

Built in emergency

Built in the emergency plan of 1909 (due to public pressure “we want eight and we won’t wait” the programme was raised to six dreadnoughts and two battlecruisers), these four battleships innovated by their main artillery, with a 343 mm caliber (13.5 in) instead of 305 (12 in). The house of commons was very satisfied on many points: This Orion class outclassed the German caliber by quite a margin both in hitting power and range, while retaining and arrangement in line, for a full broadside, and were much larger than previous battleships.

Orion in completion
HMS Orion in completion

With the four Orion, the Home Fleet once again took the initiative of the game. The class included the HMS Orion, Monarch, Conqueror and Thunderer (started in March 1910, launched in 1911, August 1910 for Orion) completed in 1912 (January for the Orion, November for the Conqueror). They had a short but active career.

Profile of the HMS Monarch
Profile of the HMS Monarch

Design

There were several points of comparisons with their forebearers, in addition to the main artillery. Essentially these were the first “clean-slate” design, free of cost limitations. According to the shipyard’s data, their overall cost ranged from £1,918,773 (Orion) to £1,860,648 (Conqueror)


Orion’s main rear battery

Armament

Their turrets were arranged in a centerline and in superfiring gun turrets, a first for a British battleship. These guns were the new breech-loading (BL) 13.5-inch Mark V gun, essentially rebored 12 in 45-calibre pieces that had a 300 feet per second (91 m/s) less muzzle velocity, significantly reducing the wear and tear of the barrel. But the paradox was their rounds retained much of the velocity by their masses and therefore turned to have a 2,500 yards (2,286 m) greater range at +20° elevation, only limited by their restricted gunsights (his was corrected with super-elevating prisms installed in 1916). Fire rate was two rounds per minute, with about 80 to 100 shells in store per gun.

The next sixteen 50-calibre BL four-inch (102 mm) Mark VII were arranged in exposed shelter deck and superstructure, unshielded. They had a 11,400 yd (10,424 m) range, fired at 2,821 ft/s (860 m/s) muzzle velocity, +15° elevation, and had 150 rounds in store. The small 3-pdr were 1.9 in (47 mm) saluting guns. The 21-inch torpedo tubes were submerged, placed in each broadside and stern, with 20 more torpedoes in store.


Dreadnoughts through the Solent

Fire direction

The installation of their tripod mast was one of their most important innovation: They were all equipped with a new type of fire control and direction, located behind the front chimney. This was justified to avoid smoke disturbance and by relocating the cranes lifting the lifeboats. Similarly, the superstructures around the front chimney were modified shortly before the war. That took time however, pushed by Board of Admiralty and architects while two major members of the Admiralty, the Director of Naval Ordnance arguing for roof-mounted sights and Jellicoe being obsessed by boat-handling arrangements.

At last their views were overcome and the Orion would get the best fire direction so far, unhampered by hot funnel gases. The data obtained by Barr and Stroud coincidence rangefinders was electrically transmitted to a Dumaresq mechanical computer, and then to Vickers range clocks located in the transmitting stations for and aft and translated into range and deflection data.

Protection and propulsion

The hull received a waterline belt of Krupp cemented armour, with a thickness concentration on the armoured citadel, decreased at 6–2.5 inches outside. There were 6-inch (152 mm) bulkheads, and a total of four armoured decks from 1 to 4 inches (25 to 102 mm) thick.


Collision between the Revenge and Orion

Submarine protection could not be enhanced by the addition of lateral ballasts (if not further subdivided below the waterline), in order to preserve the metacentric height of the building with unchanged speed. The lest innovative of their design were the three engine-room layout inherited from the Colossus-class design. The outer propeller shafts were coupled to the high-pressure turbines while the two inner shafts were served by resulting low-pressure steam. Their turbines were fed by water-tube boilers, providing 21,000 hp for a 21 knots top speed as designed. However, they all exceeded these figures on trials.

Active service

These four vessels were part of the Great Fleet, more precisely within the 2nd line squadron, or the 2nd Battle Squadron (BS) and fought in Jutland in May 1916 without loss, but some suffered collisions before the war. Prewar, they participated in the Parliamentary Naval Review on 9 July at Spithead, participated in training manoeuvres with Vice-Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg, and greeted President of France, Raymond Poincaré, at Spithead on 24 June 1913. At the time of the July crisis they participated in a test mobilization.


HMS Monarch firing

In late 1914 the ships received nine-foot rangefinders, and the computer and range clocks were replaced by Mark II or III Dreyer Fire-control Tables. Shelter-deck guns were enclosed in casemates, a pair of QF 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft (AA) guns were installed and additional armour fitted after the battle of Jutland. They were cleared of their anti-torpedo nets in 1915 and their masts were reduced, and after Jutland they saw their ammunition tanks reinforced and airplane platforms fitted on their turrets. In 1917 4-inch AA gun were exchanged for one of the 3-inch guns.
HMS Orion was the flagship of Cdr Leveson during the Battle of Jutland. All four were disarmed in 1922-25 because of the Washington Treaty, the HMS Thunderer becoming a training ship until 1926.

Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby

As the German admiralty projected a raid on these cities led by Rear-Admiral Franz von Hipper, British Intelligence decoded the message and allowed the fleet to prepare. The three orion were mobilized but during the night heavy weather of 16 December, only destroyers met, Hipper retiring before the big battleships could met.

Jutland

Jellicoe was to met the 2nd BS, coming from Cromarty, Scotland, mustering his force morning of 31 May, and the Orion class were organized into a single four battleship column, with the two divisions of the 2nd BS to his eastern flank. Conqueror and Thunderer fired at the SMS Wiesbaden without results, and did also against German battleships. Monarch and Orion did some hits on the SMS König and SMS Markgraf, more seriously damaging SMS Lützow (five hits). The rest of their wartime career was linked to a possible German raid, which never happened. Their last sortie occurred in the afternoon of 23 April 1918. They were present at Rosyth, Scotland when the Hochseeflotte surrendered on 21 November 118.


Painting – HMS Monarch

After the war in 1920 they were transferred to the Reserve Fleet at Portland. Two were briefly recommissioned to carry troops into the Mediterranean and back. Thunderer became a training ship for naval cadets in 1921, and Orion a gunnery training ship. As the result of Washington Naval Treaty limitation all four had to be sold for scrap in 1922.

HMS Thunderer at Spithead, 1912
HMS Thunderer at Spithead, 1912

Links/Sources

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_orion_class_battleships.html
http://www.worldwar1.co.uk/battleship/hms-orion.htmlhttp://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/Orion_class_battleship-_HMS_Orion
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion-class_battleship
http://www.naval-encyclopedia.com/ww1/pages/royal_navy/orion.htm
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1906-1921
British Battleships 1914–18 (2): The Super Dreadnoughts by Angus Konstam
The Battleships Builders
2-view color illustration

A class specifications

Dimensions 177,1 x27 x7,6m ()
Displacement 22,200t, 25,870t FL
Crew 752
Propulsion 4 screws, 4 Parsons Turbines, 18 Babcock & W boilers, 27,000 HP
Speed 21 knots (39 kph; 24 mph) surf/sub
Range 6,730 nautical miles (12,460 km; 7,740 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 10 x343, 16 x102, 4 x37, 3 TT 533 mm (18 in)


Author’s Illustration of the HMS Orion in 1914

Blueprint - HMS Monarch
Blueprint – HMS Monarch