Torpedo Boat Destroyers FUROR, PLUTON and TERROR
Torpedo Boat DestroyerFuror.
Click here for
an account of the FUROR in the Naval Battle of Santiago
to see an image of the TERROR undergoing repairs after the action with
the ST PAUL.
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
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.
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
The Torpedo Boat Destroyers FUROR, PLUTON and TERROR were attached
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
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
Villaamil, capitán de navío, of the FUROR (killed in
action at the Battle of Santiago)
||Torpedo Boat Destroyers
||Six Rapid-fire guns
||Two torpedo lauchers
||Furor and Terror, 370 tons,
||Pluton, 400 tons.
A profile of the FUROR
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
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
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