ANTONIO LOPEZ (TRANSPORT)

By Nick Mitiuckov

Antonio Lopez 
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GENERAL:

The ANTONIO LOPEZ, a former ocean liner converted to a military transport, was sunk while trying to run the blockade into Puerto Rico by the YOSEMITE.
 

BACKGROUND:

Launched in 1888 as a liner for the Campana Transatlantica Espanola, the ANTONIO LOPEZ was damaged by an explosion during the Cuban Insurrection. Following this event, she was converted to an army transport.

From August 3, 1895 to January 1, 1897, ANTONIO LOPEZ took part in 8 expeditions taking supplies to the Spanish troops fighting against the Cuban Insurrectos. In one trip, she delivered 30 officers and 780 soldiers.

With the outbreak of the Spanish American War, ANTONIO LOPEZ was part of Grupo E of the Reserve Squadron. She was chosen to be used as a blockade runner, to get supplies into Puerto Rico, past the American Navy, which was operating almost in its own backyard.

On the squally morning of June 30, 1898, ANTONIO LOPEZ was sighted near San Juan by the YOSEMITE. She had managed to get within two miles of the American vessel without being seen. Soon, YOSEMITE, manned by Michigan Naval Militia, opened fire. The fire was returned by the guns of the Morro and Canuelo Forts. The ISABEL II and GENERAL CONCHA also came to the blockade ruuner's defense. The YOSEMITE was forced to pull farther out to sea, but continued the chase. ANTONIO  LOPEZ, either by accident or by design, ran aground on Solinao Point. The Spanish vessels, except a small torpedo boat whixh went to the grounded vessel, broke off the action and returned to their positions. The YOSEMITE fired some 200 five inch shells at the ANTONIO LOPEZ, as well as an untold number of rounds from her six pounders. The Spanish vessel began to show evidence of being on fire.

The ANTONIO LOPEZ was a total loss, however her badly needed supply of ammunition, weapons and provisions were salavged by the Spanish military in Puerto Rico. Her cargo included twelve to fifteen larger guns, which were saved.

The remains of this important vessel are still present. On December 9, 1997, the United States' National Park Service declared the wreck as a National Historic Landmark. Plans are underway to have established as a divable and protected historic site.


TECHNOTES:

ANTONIO LOPEZ
Classification: Transport
Completed:  1888
Armament: Two 4.7 inch (120mm/35mm) breechloading guns
Four 3.4 inch (87mm/27mm) breechloading guns
Two 1-pounders (37 mm) revolving guns
Two gatling-type guns
Contractor: ?
Length: ?
Beam: ?
Draft: ?
Displacement: 3,500 tons
Complement: ?
Engine type: ?
Coal Bunker capacity: ?
Speed: 14 knots
Armor: Unarmored

Bibliography:

Barnes, Mark R., Phd and Julia Walker, Multiple Resource Nomination for the Puerto Rican Campaign of the Spanish American War. (Manuscript form).

Mitiuckov, Nicholas, naval historian, Izhevsk, Russia (personal correspondence).

Sears, John R., Our Navy in the War with Spain. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898) 285-287.
 


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