Auxiliary Cruiser RAPIDO

By Nick Mitiuckov

Auxiliary Cruiser Rapido

GENERAL:

During the Spanish American War, Spain had only three oceanliners that were used as auxiliary cruisers. They were the RAPIDO, PATRIOTA and METEORO. None of these vessels saw action, however.
 

BACKGROUND:

The Spanish Government remembered the successes of the Confederate commerce raider ALABAMA during the American Civil War, and, subsequently planned to arm some steamers and liners into auxiliary cruisers for action against American lines of supply and communication

Early in the Cuban Insurrection, to contain the United States, Spain planned convert about ten vessels into auxiliary cruisers. However, the main need at the time was for transports to carry Spanish troops to Cuba. Most of the intended auxiliary cruisers were altered to serve as transports instead.

Therefore, when the War began, Spain had about ten armored steamers. The vessels became part of Gruppo E of the Reserve Squadron. Though intended for action against American lines of communication, most of these vessels wereused as blockade runners.

Formerly the Hamburg-American Lines liner COLUMBIA, she was built at Birkenhead. The vessel formerly carried 400 first class passengers, 12o second class passengers and 580 third class passengers. The vessel was intended for use by the German government in times of war.  On April 8, 1898, Spain purchased this liner and converted her to the auxiliary cruiser RAPIDO. The vessel was commissioned 12 days later.

RAPIDO was  part of Admiral Camara's Reserve squadron, and accompanied the Admiral on his aborted trip to the Philippines, which ended at Port Said, Egypt.

After the war, RAPIDO was used as transport to return the Spanish troops from Cuba to metropolis, Spain. In late 189, Hamburg America Lines repurchased RAPIDO and put her back into service as COLUMBIA.

In 1904, the liner was sold to Russia, and was converted to an auxiliary cruiser and named TEREK. She saw service on the Pacific ocean. Before being scrapped in 1907.


TECHNOTES:


Classification: Auxiliary Cruiser
Commissioned: April 20,1898
Armament: Two 162mm/35mm Breechloading guns
Two 140mm/35mm breechloading guns
Six 47mm/44mm quickfire guns 
Contractor: Birkenhead
Length: 145 meters
Beam: 16.5 meters
Draft: 10.8 meters
Displacement 9,500 tons
Compliment:  250 Men 
Engine Type:  Twin screws, 12,500 hp.
Speed: 19 knots
Armor: ?.
Cost: ?.

Bibliography:

Kludas A. Deutsche Ozean-Passagierschiffe 1850 bis 1895. - Berlin, 1983. p 144.

"Spanish auxiliary cruisers of 1898" Warship International. - 1970.  # 1. - P.88.

Wilson H.W., Downfall of Spain.

VKAM-97.


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