Torpedo Boat Destroyers FUROR, PLUTON and TERROR


Torpedo Boat DestroyerFuror. 
Click here to see an image of the TERROR undergoing repairs after the action with the ST PAUL.

Click here for an account of the FUROR in the Naval Battle of Santiago

Click here for information on Tenient de Navio, Francisco Arderius Rodriguez

Click here to read about Francisco Arderius Rodriguez' account of an incident during his return to Spain

GENERAL:

The invention of the Whitehead torpedo and the building of Torpedo Boats was a major development in Naval warfare during the closing decades of the 19th Century. The new and untried nature of this weapon led to much effort being put into tactics and equipment to counter the underwater threat. Capitán de Navio Fernando Villaamil of the Spanish Navy was the inventor of the DESTRUCTOR, the world's first Torpedo Boat Destroyer. These were larger, more powerful versions of Torpedo Boats, designed to, as the name suggests, destroy the smaller craft. After the turn of the century, they became known simply as Destroyers. The United States Navy did not yet have any Torpedo Boat Destroyers in commission in 1898, but those of the Spanish Navy were among the most feared vessels in that fleet.

BACKGROUND:

TERROR's keel was laid on February 9, 1896, originally for the British Royal Navy, at the yard of James & George Thomson Ltd., Scotland. She was launched on August 28, and then completed on November 20. TERROR was followed by FUROR, whose keel was laid on February 21 of the same year by the same firm, and completed on November 21, a day after TERROR. Thomson laid the keel for PLUTON on February 12, 1897. In April the company changed its name to Clydebank Engineering &  Shipbuilding  Co. and it was under this company name that the PLUTON was completed on November 4, 1897.

The Torpedo Boat Destroyers FUROR, PLUTON and TERROR were attached to Admiral Cervera's Cape Verde Squadron when it sailed from Spain at the outbreak of the Spanish American War. Mechanical problems forced the Admiral to leave TERROR behind at Martinique when the rest of the fleet left for Cuba.

The TERROR later sailed on her own to San Juan, Puerto Rico. At 1:30 pm, June 22, 1898, she sortied from San Juan and attacked the blockading Auxiliary Cruiser USS ST. PAUL. The Spanish vessel was severely damaged by the ST. PAUL's fire and had to be beached. She was repaired in San Juan and left for Spain on September 14, 1898, after the end of hostilities.

FUROR and PLUTON, under the personal command of Capitán de Navio Villaamil, were the last two vessels out of Santiago Harbor on July 3, 1898. The Torpedo Boat Destroyers soon came under heavy attack by the Armed Yacht USS GLOUCESTER, under the former First Officer of USS MAINE, Lt. Commander Richard Wainwright, the Battleships INDIANA and IOWA and, a little later, the Armored Cruiser NEW YORK. Both Spanish vessels were soon riddled, the FUROR plunging to the bottom and the PLUTON being run up on some rocks and later exploding. The heroism of the Spanish sailors, and of those on the unarmored and lightly armed GLOUCESTER, provoked much comment from US Naval personal and correspondents. Capitán de Navio Fernando Villaamil went down with the FUROR.
 

 

Officers of the PLUTON and FUROR. On the left is Pedro Vázquez, teniente de navío, of the PLUTON. On the right is Fernando Villaamil, capitán de navío, of the FUROR (killed in action at the Battle of Santiago)


TECHNOTES:


Classification: Torpedo Boat Destroyers
Completed: 1896-97
Armament: Six Rapid-fire guns
Two torpedo lauchers
Length: 220 feet
Displacement: Furor and Terror, 370 tons,
Pluton, 400 tons.
Speed: 26 knots

A profile of the FUROR

Bibliography:

Azy, A.C.M., "Signal 250! The Sea Fight Off Santiago", New York: David McKay Company, 1964.

Brown, Charles H., "The Correspondent's War", New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1967.

Freidel, Frank, "The Splendid Little War", Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1958.

González López, Manuel P., Personal Internet Contact.

Iborra, Federico, (image of Vazquez).

Jane, Fred D., "Janes All the World's Fighting Ships, 1898", New York: Arco Publishing Co., Inc, 1969.

Rivero, Captain Angel, "Crónica de la Guerra Hispanoamericana en Puerto Rico", Editorial Edil, Inc., Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, 1972 (reprint, first published 1921). Thanks to Ramiro Cruz.

Skelton, Peter (info. from the records of James & George Thomson Ltd., and Clydebank Engineering &  Shipbuilding  Co. company archives).


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