Spanish Auxiliary Gunboats

By Nick Mitiuckov

General:

The following article concerns Spanish auxiliary cruisers of the Spanish American War period. The author is searching for more information on these vessels, and would like verification of the facts as listed below. If you can aid in either of these goals please contact the website administrator, and he will put us in contact! We need your help!

When the Cuban Insurrection began, Spain found herslf in a difficult situation: She had a "fleet in being", but, in fact, Spain had no control of the Cuban coast. Small Cuban boats, scows, shalandas and etc. unloaded theirs contraband cargoes in the remote areas of the island's bay and coasts and the Spaniards had few small vessels for use in shoal areas to oppose these incursions.

Spain ordered a great number of small 3rd class gunboats from England and Spain, but for immediate use, they purchased and armed some small yachts, steamers and tugs.

Formally, these vessels didn't exist on the official Spanish Navy rolls, and this is why research into these vessels is rendered difficult. However, these vessel made a heroic stand, and it would be a great crime if they were forgotten in history.



In 1895-96, approximately 10 yachts, purchased in Cuba and the U.S. were armed for use as auxiliary gunboats:


AGUILA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
           
 
This vessel was built in 1871 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.


ARAZONA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
21 tons
         
 


CENTINELA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
30 tons
30m x ?m x ?m
?
9.5 knots
? miles
3 tons
 
This vessel was purchased in 1895, having been built in the U.S. Her armament consisted of two 37mm/20cal rapid-fire guns. Her crew complement consisted of 17 men.

The original owner of the wood-hulled vessel is unknown, as are the details of her service.  She was placed under the command of Ensign Aldereguia. On June 30, 1898, while operating off of Nicero (near Manzanillo), she was overtaken by the USS HIST, USS HORNET and the USS WOMPATUCK. The CENTINELA, now under the command of Ensign Alejandro Aris Salagado, joined battle in spite of the unequal situation. During the action, she took 25 hits, killing one of her crewmen and wounding others. The vessel sunk in the shallows. However, one of her steam lines was damaged and the crew attempted to wrap the damage. The Americans mistakenly took the steam to be the smoke of her guns and again opened fire. A few days later, the gunboat was raised and towed into Manzanillo for repairs. On July 18, she was destroyed by the Americans.

The vessel's name is the Spanish word for "guard." ("sentinela")



DARDO
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
26 tons
18m x 4m x 1.46m
?
6 tons
 
She was launched in 1889(?) in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. Her armament consisted of one 70mm/16cal breechloading Hontoria gun and one machine gun. Her crew complement is unknown.

The wood-hulled vessel was purchased in 1895, but the details are unknown. During the war, she served at Batabano. She was commanded by Ensign Montero. She served from 1895 to 1898.

The vessel's name is the Spanish word for "dart."



DELGADO PAREJO
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
85 tons
30m x 5.19m x 1.83m (3.05 full)
?
?
?
14 tons
 
This steel-hulled vessel, constructed in the U.S. and formerly named DART, was purchased in New York in 1896. Her armament consisted of one 57mm/43cal quick-fire Nordenfelt gun and one 37mm/20cal rapid-fire Hotchkiss gun. Her crew complement is unknown.

The vessel was placed under the command of Lt. Ramos initially. By the time of the Spanish American War she was under the command of Lt. Don Ubaldo Seris. During the June 30 battle off Manzanillo with the USS HIST, USS HORNET and USS WOMPATUCK, she was hit several times, resulting in 2 of her crewmen being killed, and 4 more wounded. During the July 18 battle, she was destroyed by the Americans.

The vessel was named for Almirante Delgado Parejo (? - 1895), the commander of Havana's naval base. He went down with the cruiser SANCHEZ BARCAZTEGUI when she was sunk near Havana on September 18, 1895.



DEPENDIENTE
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
40 tons
?
?
?
?
?
 
This vessel was launched in 1896 in London, EnglandDetails about this vessel are unknown. She was sunk in Casilda Bay by the USS YANKEE. The vessel was placed under the command of Lt. Moreno Eliza.

The vessel's name means "Subordinate" in Spanish.



ESPERANZA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
22 tons
18.0 x 2.8m x ?m
?
?
?
?
 
This wooden-hulled former U.S.- built yacht  was armed with one machine gun, and had a crew of 12 men. She served from 1895 to 1898. Futher details about this vessel are unknown.

The vessel's name means "Hope" in Spanish.



INTREPIDA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
25 tons
?
?
?
?
?
 
During the Spanish American War, this U.S.-built vessel was in the Caribbean, under the command of Lt. Puerta. She served from 1896 to 1898. Other details are unknown.

The vessel's name means "Intrepid" in Spanish.



LEALTAD
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
30 tons
?
?
?
?
?
 
During the Spanish American War, this vessel, built in Havana, Cuba, was at the Sagua, under the command of Lt. Chereguini. Other details are unknown. Some sources suggest that the vessel fored unsuccessfully on U.S. naval vessels near Cardenas.

The vessel's name means "Faith, Fidelity" in Spanish.



MENSAJERO
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
30 tons
20.0m x 3.8m x 1.0m 
?
10
?
4 tons
 
This steel-hulled former yacht, built in the U.S.,  mounted one machine gun and had a crew of 16 men. She served from 1896 to 1898. Other details concerning her servic are unknown. At the beginning of the Spanish American War, she was located at Batabano. Some sources indicate that the vessel fired on the vessels of the U.S Navy near Havana.

The vessel's name means "Courier" or "messenger" in Spanish.



RELAMPAGO
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
25 tons
?
?
10
?
4 tons
 
This U.S.-built vessel was sunk by the Cuban Insurgents in 1896.

The vessel's name means "lightning" in Spanish.



In 1895-96 some small steamers and tugs, purchsed in Cuba and also from the U.S. were armed. They are as listed below.

ANTONIO LOPEZ (For more information on this vessel, click here!)
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
68 tons
?
?
10
?
4 tons
 
This former tug, built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. in 1883, was armed with one 57 mm/43cal. quick-fire Nordenfeldt gun and one 37mm/30cal quick-fire Hotchkiss. This vessel took part in battles on May 8, and may 11, 1898 near Cardenas. On May 11, she was engaged in an unequal battle ag8inst four U.S. Navy vessels. Early in the battle, the gunboar LIGERA was ordered out of action because of damage, ANTONIO LOPEZ's commander, Domingo Montez was ordered scuttled in the shallows while he, himself, continued firing one of her guns. The firing was accurate. The U.S. Torpedo Boat WINSLOW was badly damaged, with 5 men killed and four wounded (this was actually more damage than than both Admiral Montojo and Admiral Cervera were able to inflict at Manila Bay and Santiago respectively). The Americans claimed that the ANTONIO LOPEZ was sunk. She was not, but she did take 12 hits, killing two of her crew and wounding others. She took part in no other actions.

The vessel was named for Antonio Lopez (1817 - 1883), a  Spanish businessman who established the "Antonio Lopez Co", later reorganized and called the CampanaTransatlantica Espanola (CTE).



GUARDIAN
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
65 tons
?
?
12
?
?
 
This steel hulled vessel, built in 1893 in New York, U.S.A., was formerly the AZTECA (owned by the A Menendez company). She was armed with one 47mm/42cal Nordenfeldt quick-fire gun and three machine guns. The vessel had been purchased for conversion in 1895. At the battle of Mansanillo on June 30, 1898, while under the command of Lt. Don Carlos del Camilo, she remained at anchor because of broken machinery and took no part in the action. After the battle on July 18, she was disarmed by her crew.

The vessel's name means "watchman" in Spanish.



MARIA
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
?
?
?
?
?
?
 
This old wooden-hulled vessel was armed with on 120 mm bronze muzzleloading gun.  By 1898, she was in no condition to move under her own power and was used as a floating battery at Mansanillo. In the June 30 battle at Mansanillo she was hit several times, and had four members of her crew wounded. She was totally destroyed on July 18 by American naval fire.

The vessel was propably named for Reina Maria Cristina, the Queen of Spain.



MEJICO
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
?
?
?
?
?
?
 
During the Spanish American War, this vessel was used as a mine-laying vessel at Santiago. She was under the command of Lt. Duran.


VALENTE
 
Displacement
 Dimensions
Horsepower
Speed
Range
Bunker capacity
Class
30 tons
?
?
?
?
?
 
This vessel was former the steamship CONDE DE LA MORTERA, which was built in the U.S. During the Spanish American War, she was stationed in the Caribbean. She was unde rthe command of Ensign Garay.

The vessel's name means "Courage" in Spanish.


Other vessels, on which we have no information, include:
AMALIA, ARDILLA, CANDELARIA, CADIDA, CEFIRO, CONSTANTE, DOLORES, DOS HERMANAS, ESMERADA, FAMA, GALARDA, GAMO, GARZA, GUINDILLA, GUINDA, INTREPIDA, JAVIER, LIEBRE, MARIANA, NIMFA, PEZ, PRONTA, RADIANTE, SAN JUAN, SANTA MARIA, SAN MATEO, SERPIENTE, TRUENO, TURIA, VIVA.

There in information, that during war AMALIA, ANITA, MARIA and PERLAwere in Havana.


Please note that we are looking for more information on these vessels. If you have additional data, please contact us!


Bibliography:

AGUILERA's Buques de la Armada Espanola (Madrid: Editorial Silex, 1999) (data courtesy of Francisco Jose Diaz Diaz)

"Mansanillo battle," Warship International. 1977.

Valdiveso Mario, Naval Historian, El Ferrol, Spain (personal correspondence)

Voennie floty i morskaya spravochnaya knizhka na 1899 god. - SPb, Tipigraphy
E.Goppe, 1899.

Wilson H.W., Downfall of Spain.  (London, 1900).


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