Spanish American War naval combats

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Karl Heidenreich
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Spanish American War naval combats

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu May 22, 2008 11:00 pm

Now that May is about to end we must remember that on May 1st, 1898 the USN and the Spanish Navy got engaged in a decisive struggle that, at the end, was the historic moment when a centenial empire declined and a new one rose.

And it´s quite interesting because in my case I always had the idea that the Spanish were in a better shape than, as I later learned, they really were. But it´s also interesting to note that in both crucial combats: Manila Bay and Santiago de Cuba, there were options available for the Spanish to even the odds.

At Manila Bay, May 1st, Spanish Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón had the option to take shelter on the Bay´s fortress guns but decided otherwise and looked for shallow waters. There he waited for Comodore Dewey and his vessels.

Spanish Forces under Montojo:

Cruiser Reina Cristina @ 3,000 tons and 6 x 6,4" main guns
Cruiser Castilla @ 3,300 tons and 5,9" main guns
Cruiser Antonio Ulloa 4 x 4,7"
Cruiser Juan de Austria 4 x 4,7"
Cruiser Isla de Cuba 6 x 4,7"
Cruiser Isla de Luzón 6 x 4,7"
Cruiser Velazco 4 x 6"
Gunboat Marques Duero 1 x 6,4"

USN forces under Dewey:

Cruiser Olimpia @ 5,600 tons and 4 x 8" main guns
Cruiser Baltimore @ 4,400 tons and 4 x 8" + 6 x 6" main guns
Cruiser Raleigh @ 3,200 tons 1 x 6" + 10 x 5"
USS Petrel 4 x 4"
USS Concord 6 x 6"
USS Boston 2 x 8" + 6 x 6"

At Santiago de Cuba happened another amusing thing. Admiral Pascual Cervera knew the weakness of his own ships (as Cristobal Colón that lacked of it´s main armament!) and suggested that his Squadron sail to Canary Island and wait there for the USN Squadron to cross the entire Atlantic, got tired, need to replenish, and then had an opportunity to fight in a place of his choosing and timing. But Cervera´s superiors sent him to sail across the Atlantic and face an enemy on their terms! No chance to win.

Spanish Forces under Cervera:

4 armoured cruisers + 2 Gunboats

USN Forces under Sampson and Winfield Scott Schley

4 battleships + 2 torpedo boats

Best regards...
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby lwd » Fri May 23, 2008 1:06 am

From what I've read the British who watched Dewey's force head for Manila didn't expect him to win.

At Cuba the US used one of the strangest vessels ever produced. The Vesuvius. Her main armament could do incredible damage but only managed to hit water.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Fri May 23, 2008 2:16 am

lwd:

From what I've read the British who watched Dewey's force head for Manila didn't expect him to win.


You´re right. In a book called "The Wars of America" (can´t remember the author now but was the same guy that wrote a historical novel about McArthur) that same thing was mentioned: that european officers even gave counsel to Dewey about avoiding combast against what they believed was a superior tactical enemy. From there is that I, at first, became to believe that the Spanish were defeated while having superior capabilities. But that´s not the case: the USN had a great deal of superiority in numbers and vessels.

About that ship you mentioned, lwd, where can we see a little more info. Seems, well, funny...

Kind regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby RF » Fri May 23, 2008 12:59 pm

One thing I have always found curious about this conflict is its timing and the fact that Spain had no allies, such as for example Mexico or even Germany, where one of the ego trips of Kaiser Wilhelm II was to seize Panama (I am aware that that was post this war, but you get the idea).

In the light of later conflicts, an 1898 war between the USA and a combination of Spain, Russia, Germany, Japan and Mexico would have been interesting as a hypothetical scenario.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby RF » Fri May 23, 2008 1:02 pm

Talking of nineteenth century ''Spanish American'' naval actions, I was wondering Karl if you were aware of the 188o's War of the Pacific, where Chile had a navy that comprehensively walloped Peru and seized Lima.
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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby lwd » Fri May 23, 2008 1:05 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote: ...About that ship you mentioned, lwd, where can we see a little more info. Seems, well, funny...
....

That's certainly one way of putting it, odd, strange, etc could also apply. Here are some sites:
http://www.spanamwar.com/vesuvius.htm
Apparently she put some holes in the ground as well as the ocean.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Vesuvius_(1888)
http://www.hazegray.org/features/vesuvius/
http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/even ... isc-sh.htm

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby lwd » Fri May 23, 2008 1:08 pm

RF wrote:... 188o's War of the Pacific, where Chile had a navy that comprehensively walloped Peru and seized Lima.

There were some scenarios from these conflicts (I think the plural is correct) for the game Ironclads. A very good game and from what I could tell realistic if you didn't pick too odd a scenario. I think one of the actions saw first use of a steam (as opposed to a spar) torpedo but could be wrong on this.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby José M. Rico » Fri May 23, 2008 1:27 pm

RF wrote:One thing I have always found curious about this conflict is its timing and the fact that Spain had no allies, such as for example Mexico or even Germany.

I think that at one point a German fleet wanted to intervene in the Philippines, but the possible British intervention in favor of the US persuaded them to do so.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby lwd » Fri May 23, 2008 2:22 pm

José M. Rico wrote:
RF wrote:One thing I have always found curious about this conflict is its timing and the fact that Spain had no allies, such as for example Mexico or even Germany.

I think that at one point a German fleet wanted to intervene in the Philippines, but the possible British intervention in favor of the US persuaded them to do so.

I seam to recall something similar. Although I don't remember if the Gemans were planning on intervening to support the Spanish or just to grap part of the Philipines for themeselves or some combination.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby RF » Wed May 28, 2008 8:30 am

I haven't heard of this matter regarding the Philippines. This war happened immediately prior to the German Naval Bills under Tirpitz (so Germany still only had a small fleet and a string of newly acquired colonies) so German naval intervention would I think have been impossible without support from other countries with large navies available in the Pacific area - the only possibility would have been Japan.

Britain had at theat time substantial colonial military commitments - in the Sudan and later in South Africa (the second Boer War) so I think would have been unlikely to have also initiated major commitments against Spain, which at the very least would mean reinforcing Gibraltar. Also any British moves against Spain could have brought France in as an ally of Spain....
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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby RF » Wed May 28, 2008 12:44 pm

lwd wrote:
RF wrote:... 188o's War of the Pacific, where Chile had a navy that comprehensively walloped Peru and seized Lima.

There were some scenarios from these conflicts (I think the plural is correct) for the game Ironclads. A very good game and from what I could tell realistic if you didn't pick too odd a scenario. I think one of the actions saw first use of a steam (as opposed to a spar) torpedo but could be wrong on this.


Chile basically won because it had ''ironclads'' and used them aggressively, whereas the Peruvian ships were largely unarmoured - and Bolivia was quickly out of the war when it lost its coastline.

I am not aware of the use of steam torpedo, but it could well be the case.
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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby lwd » Wed May 28, 2008 1:01 pm

I thought it might have been the Huascar that had the torpedos but they aren't mentioned in:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huascar_(ship)
but boy what an impressive history and it's still afloat.

Found some info on the first use at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpedo#Ea ... rpedoes.22
On 16 January 1878, the Turkish steamer Intibah became the first vessel to be sunk by self-propelled torpedoes, launched from torpedo boats operating from the tender Velikiy Knyaz Konstantin under the command of Stepan Osipovich Makarov during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. In another early use of the torpedo, Blanco Encalada was sunk on April 23, 1891 by a torpedo from the gunboat Almirante Lynch, during the Chilean Civil War.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby USS ALASKA » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:08 am

Sorry to drag up a thread last replied to 3 years ago but what the heck - not a whole lot of action in this part of the forum.

http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Default-Sp ... 338&sr=1-4

Empire by Default: The Spanish-American War and the Dawn of the American Century by Ivan Musicant. An outstanding book that goes into quite a bit of detail on the naval battles, composition and readiness of the fleets, thoughts of the foreign observers, and the MASSIVE trials and tribulations of Almirante Pascual Cervera y Topete. I've mentioned it before and I think it bears repeating - he and Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky have a great deal in common.

Anyway, good book that can be had for about $4.00

Cheers

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby RF » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:03 pm

Yes, and there are also some pretty good and interesting reviews of this book as well.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Spanish American War naval combats

Postby Ken Thompson » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:12 am

The success of the 8 inch gun in the Philippines encouraged the US Navy to load up the subsequent battleships with the 8 inch guns as the intermediate battery. Going to the extreme with a 2 story main turret.

The Vesuvius reminds me of the LSM(R)'s of WW 2. Armed with rocket launchers to lay down a barrage ahead of the first landing wave. They had to aim the ship too and it was indirect fire. They kept refining it into the 50's, Now they are experimenting with something called a magnetic rail gun. The big gun idea just won't go away.


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