Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
– Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Aug 30
Here we have the Giuseppe Garibaldi-class armored cruiser of the Spanish Navy, Cristóbal Colón.
The Cristóbal Colón was built in Italy in 1895-97 and acquired by the Spanish Government with a war looming in the New World over Cuba. Designed with a large main 10-inch gun the ship was never armed with such as went to war with a staggered armament of 8, 6, and 3-inch weapons along with early machine guns and torpedo tubes.
She was part of Admiral Cervera’s squadron in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba when an American squadron arrived on 27 May 1898 and began a blockade which would drag on for 37 days. Finally, the squadron charged out to tried to break the blockade.
One by one her squadron mates were sent to the bottom by massed firepower of the US Fleet. Cristóbal Colón steamed on alone, the last survivor of Cervera’s squadron. For a time, it seemed that she might get away. Although her machinery was not able to get her up to her top speed after months of hard steaming, she was rated as the fastest ship of either side in the battle, was better armored and armed than her erstwhile squadron mates, and thus far had taken only two 5-inch (127 mm) or 6-inch (152 mm) hits. She was making 15 knots (28 km/h), and the fastest and closest U.S. ship, Brooklyn, was now six miles (10 km) behind her. Vixen was close behind Brooklyn. Armored cruiser USS New York, making 20 knots (37 km/h), was closing, and, farther behind, battleships Texas and Oregon also were making their best speed in pursuit.
After another hour, Cristóbal Colón had run through all of her best coal, switched to an inferior grade, and began to lose speed. At 1220, Oregon fired a 13-inch (330-mm) round which landed just astern of Cristóbal Colón, and soon more 13-inch (330 mm) rounds, as well as 8-inch (203-mm) shells from Brooklyn and New York, were landing around the Spanish ship. In contrast, she had only one 6-inch (152-mm) gun that would bear on her pursuers.
All told, the Spanish cruiser was hit six times.When the range dropped to 2,000 yards (1,830 m), the commanding officer of Cristóbal Colón, Captain Jose de Paredes, decided that after a 50 mile run, the chase was over; in order to save the lives of her crew, he beached her at the mouth of the Tarquino River, 75 miles (65 nmi; 121 km) west of Santiago, at 1315 hours. It was the end of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.
Some of her sailors made it ashore, although they had to beware of Cuban insurgents, who began to shoot the survivors of the wrecked Spanish ships. Others were rescued by American sailors who came alongside the wreck in small boats to take off survivors.
That night, a U.S. Navy salvage team from repair ship USS Vulcan decided that Cristóbal Colón was worth salvaging and towed her off the rocks. But she lacked watertight integrity and quickly capsized and sank, a total loss. Today she is a popular dive destination off the Cuban coast, especially with Spanish tourists.
Displacement: 7,972 long tons (8,100 t) full load
Length: 366 ft 8 in (111.76 m)
Beam: 59 ft 10 1⁄2 in (18.250 m)
Draft: 23 ft 3 1⁄2 in (7.099 m) maximum
Installed power: 13,655–14,713 ihp (10.183–10.971 MW)
Propulsion: Vertical triple expansion, 24 boilers
Speed: 19.3–20.02 knots (35.7–37.08 km/h)
Endurance: 4,400 nmi at 10 knots
(8,100 km at 19 km/h)
Complement: 510 to 559 officers and enlisted
Armament: 1 × 10 inch/45-caliber (254 mm) gun (never installed)
2 × 8 inch/45-caliber (203 mm) guns
14 × 6 inch/40 caliber (152 mm)
10 × 3 inch (76.2 mm)/40-caliber
6 × 47 mm guns
2 Maxim machine guns,br />4 × 17.7 inch (450 mm)torpedo tubes.
Armor: Belt: 4.8 in (122 mm);
Conning tower 4.8 in (122 mmm)
Deck 1.5 in (38 mm)
Turrets 4.8 in (122 mm)
Deck gunshields 2 in (51 mm)
Notes: 1,050 long tons (1,070 t) coal (normal)