Military Review

Battle of Santiago de Cuba

A new article from the creators of World of Warships provides an overview of the decisive naval battle of the Spanish-American War of 1898.

At the end of the 1896th century, a war of independence broke out in Cuba. The island wanted to gain independence from Spain, to which it had belonged since the 2th century. Since 1898, the United States has been preparing to seize the Spanish colonies. Thanks to propaganda, the US population sympathized with the rebels, they were financed from America. To demonstrate the flag and put pressure on the Spaniards, the XNUMXnd class battleship Maine was sent to Cuba. The ship died for unknown reasons, which gave the United States an excuse to start a full-fledged war with Spain in XNUMX.

Hero of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, American armored cruiser Brooklyn

At that time, Spain could no longer boast of its own naval forces. Only a shadow remains of the former empire. However, in order to break the blockade of Cuba by American ships, ensure sea communications with the island and defend it, a squadron of Rear Admiral Pascual Server was sent to the Caribbean Sea. Its main force was represented by the armored cruisers Infanta Maria Teresa, Almirante Oquendo, Vizcaya and Cristobal Colon and the counter-destroyers Furor and Pluton. Also in Santiago was the unarmored cruiser Reina Mercedes. After the start of the war, he was disarmed: 160-mm main guns were removed from the ship and installed on coastal batteries.

At first glance, a very powerful formation, but upon closer examination it was noticeable that the Spanish fleet was going through hard times. For example, the Cristobal Colon lacked 254 mm main guns. The cruiser went into battle with only 152-mm, 127-mm and 57-mm artillery on board. The armament of other ships also only looked impressive. The guns were outdated and not the most reliable, and the quality of the ammunition was unacceptable. In addition, all Spanish cruisers, with the exception of the Colon, were outdated compared to American ships, in need of repair, and their crews were poorly trained.

Spanish flagship armored cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa

The Spanish fleet was in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba to resupply coal, where on June 27 it was blocked by an American squadron. Even assuming that the 1st class battleship and 2 cruisers went to replenish the coal, she was superior in strength to the Spanish. In addition, Rear Admiral Sampson departed for some time with the armored cruiser and destroyer, and Commodore Winfield Schley took command. Under his command were: the armored cruiser Brooklyn; Class I battleships Iowa, Indiana and Oregon; battleship II-class Texas and support cruisers Gloucester and Vixen.

The commander of the Spanish squadron decided to break through from Santiago de Cuba during daylight hours. Of all the American ships, only the Brooklyn outnumbered the Spaniards in speed. Server later said that he intended to sacrifice his flagship cruiser and delay the fast-moving Brooklyn in order to save the rest of the ships.

At about 9:30 am on July 3, 1898, a Spanish squadron led by the cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa left Santiago. The American ships blockading the port began to take off anchors and breed steam. Server immediately set to work on his plan. He sent the flagship to the fastest American cruiser, hoping to quickly disable it in close combat. When the opponents approached at a distance of 7,5 cables, Commodore Schley ordered to turn to the right. Brooklyn unleashed the full might of its artillery on the Spanish flagship. Infanta Maria Teresa could not stand this duel. The Spanish cruiser began to leave along the coast, and the rest of the ships of the squadron followed him.

In turn, Brooklyn was forced to describe almost a whole circle in order to rush in pursuit of the Spaniards. As a result, he nearly rammed Texas, which also began the pursuit. The battleship had to be given a full backward, which caused Oregon to nearly crash into it. Nevertheless, the American ships were able to disperse.

American battleship Iowa

The battleship Iowa fired at the Spanish flagship. He managed to get a couple of hits with the main caliber. A fire broke out on the enemy's cruiser, and he began to lose speed. Seeing that the Infanta Maria Teresa was in trouble, other Spanish ships overtook her. With the cruiser, only Almirante Oquendo, which was on the way, remained with the cruiser.

The Spanish destroyers soon died. In the daytime battle, they did not have a single chance to survive under the fire of the battleships. Both ships were damaged and finished off by the American auxiliary cruiser Gloucester. At the same time, the lagging Spanish cruisers Infanta Maria Teresa and Almirante Oquendo fought against the entire enemy squadron. Most of the artillery of the Spanish ships was knocked out and did not function. The Americans responded to their rare volleys with a barrage of shells. It got to the point that Brooklyn and Iowa approached the Spaniards almost point-blank, showering them with multiple volleys of small-caliber artillery. This caused numerous fires and losses in the crews of the ships. Although the armor protected most of the vital systems, both Spanish cruisers were out of action. Admiral Server, seeing no other way out, ordered to be thrown ashore.

Not all American ships went in pursuit of the retreating Vizcaya and Cristobal Colon. Indiana could not reach the required speed, and Iowa got hit in the pipe, which also prevented her from going full speed. However, the time has come to show itself to the fastest American ship - Brooklyn. The cruiser rushed in pursuit of the Spaniards, trying to push them to the shore. Vizcaya responded with rare volleys: the poor quality of guns and ammunition affected. Oregon joined Brooklyn around this time. At about 11 o'clock, the Spanish cruiser, having received quite serious damage, washed ashore.

The battle was drawing to a close, as of all the Spanish ships only Cristobal Colon remained in service. The poor quality of the coal and the fatigue of the stokers caused the cruiser to lose speed. At first he managed to break away at a distance of up to 6 miles, but the Americans were slowly catching up with him. Even though Brooklyn had 2 boilers out of order, it could reach speeds of up to 17 knots. After an hour of chase, the opponents were at a shooting distance. On the Cristobal Colon, only one 152 mm gun could fire at the pursuers. From 12:20 pm, when Oregon came into range and fired the first volley, and before Colon hit the shore at 13:15 pm, Oregon, Brooklyn and New York fired at it.

The skeleton of the Spanish armored cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa after the battle

The battle ended there. The American squadron won a decisive victory with virtually no casualties. The armored cruiser Brooklyn suffered the most, with over 20 shells hitting it. It killed 1 person and 1 was wounded. The rest of the ships had no crew losses. The Spaniards lost 4 armored cruisers and 2 destroyers. 320 people died on these ships and 150 were injured. More than 1800 Spaniards, including Admiral Cervera, were captured.

The defeat at the Battle of Santiago had a profound effect on Spain. In fact, this meant the surrender of Cuba and defeat in the war. After this battle, Spain finally lost the status of a great naval power. And America declared with this victory that it is ready to fight for the title of the strongest naval power.

Indeed, noteworthy is the fact how cleverly the young US state managed to create a combat-ready fleet and break out into the leaders of the list of sea powers in the world. But the American ships were destined to demonstrate their true strength during the confrontation in the Pacific Ocean. Watch a Wargaming documentary on one of the most advanced battleships in stories fleet - USS New Jersey.


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  1. Catfish
    Catfish 11 January 2022 06: 50
    ... the 2nd class battleship Maine was sent to Cuba. The ship died for unknown reasons ...

    Armored cruiser Maine, eng. USS Maine, ACR-1 (in fact - a class II battleship)

    Named after Maine[1]
    Class and type of vessel Armored cruiser
    Manufacturer Navy Yard, New York
    Launched 18 November 1889
    Commissioned 17 September 1895
    Status Exploded and sank on February 15, 1898 in the roadstead of Havana
    Main characteristics
    6789 T displacement
    98,9 length m.
    Width m 17,37.
    Draft 6,55 - 6,9 m.
    belt - 152-305 mm
    deck - 51 mm
    main caliber turrets - 203 mm
    barbets - 305 mm
    cabin - 254 mm
    Engines 2 horizontal steam engine, 4 steam boilers
    9000 power l. with.
    2 screw propeller
    Travel speed 16,4 - 17 knots
    Crew 355 (26 officers, 290 sailors, 39 marines)
    Artillery 2x2 - 254mm/30
    6x1 - 152 mm / 30, 7 - 57 mm, 8 - 37 mm
    Mine and torpedo armament 4x1 - 356 mm

    The skeleton of "Maine" after the explosion. 1898 g.
    1. Daniil Konovalenko
      Daniil Konovalenko 11 January 2022 09: 02
      ... Years later, when the war ends safely, the Americans will raise the remains of the "Maine" - and find that the explosion really took place inside - however, the true reasons for the death of the battleship are still unknown ...
      1. Blacksmith 55
        Blacksmith 55 11 January 2022 12: 01
        They themselves blew it up, blamed the Spaniards.
        There was a reason to start a war.
        At the same time, their own American sailors were killed.
        But what does the death of people mean if there is a goal?
  2. Senior seaman
    Senior seaman 11 January 2022 12: 18
    So, on Cristobal Colon were absent 254-mm main battery guns. The cruiser went into battle with only 152 mm on board, 127-mm and 57 mm artillery.

    There were no such calibers in the Spanish navy
    The Spaniards initially abandoned the 254mm Armstrong guns, planning to install the 240mm Ontorian guns as the main gun.
    As for the SK, in addition to the 152mm battery, there were six 120mm Armstrong guns on the upper deck.
  3. Private SA
    Private SA 12 January 2022 02: 43
    In the journal "Tekhnika - Molodyozhi" from the first half of the 1970s of the last century and
    last millennium there was an article about the explosion of the armored cruiser "Maine" (according to "Wiki" and
    version of the author of the article - a battleship of the 2nd rank) on the raid of Havana. There, in that article, and another version was sounded about the request of the captain of the ship, who escaped during his sinking
    about blowing up the remains of the "vessel" after lifting from shallow water and inspection. There's cordita in
    artillery cellars "Maine" with its tendency to spontaneous combustion were not? It seems to have been