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The Spanish Navy in the 1890s

By 1892 the Spanish Navy Estimates had risen to 1,523,544, but a special fund of 9,000,000, spread over ten years, is at the disposal of the Admiralty for reinforcing the fleet. Spain devoted her attention, above all, to cruisers, in order to ensure the safety of her communications with her rich Colonies. The naval policy of Spain seemed, therefore, to be designed rather for protection than for offensive purposes.

In 1891 the protected cruiser Cardinal Cisneros, of 7,000 tons, 13,000 horse-power, and 20 knots, sister-ship to the Viscaya and Oquendo, launched in 1891, had been laid down. The Alfonso XIII, of 4800 tons and 7800 horse-power, had been launched. Preparations had been made for laying down the large armoured cruiser Emperor Charles V., of 9235 tons, 15,000 horsepower, and 21 knots. The Lepanto, of 5000 tons, 11,000 horsepower, and 20 knots, was launched in 1892 ; the Cataluna and the Princessa de Asturias, of the Oquendo type, in 1893. The cruiser Maria Theresa, of 7000 tons and 20 knots, was completing, as well as the Ensenada, of 1050 tons and 15 knots. The latter should be ready in 1892.

The protected cruisers Alfonso XII and Eeina Mercedes, of 3200 tons and 4800 horse-power, had been completed. The Alfonso XII fell far short of a speed of 17 knots, for which she was designed. The small cruiser of 1150 tons, the Venadito, was completed in 1891, and steamed 14'5 knots. Amongst the smaller ships must be mentioned the torpedo gun-vessels of 550 tons and 18 knots- the Andaz, completed in 1891, the Galicia and Marquis de Molins, launched last year, the Nueva Espafia, the Tenerario (formerly called the Veloz), and the Eapido completing afloat.

The type of torpedo gun-vessel seemed to be abandoned for four catchers, torpedo-catchers, which closely resembled the Sharpshooter, and were of 750 tons displacement. They were ordered from private contractors. These vessels were designed to steam 20 knots, and were provisionally designated by the letters A, B, C, D. No torpedo-boat had been ordered lately, but some activity had been shown with regard to the defences of the coast.

Spain had experiments made in France, in transforming weapons of old type into quick-firing guns. The workshops at Creusot which have undertaken these experiments have obtained, with a 5 6-in. gun firing a projectile of 88 Ibs., an initial velocity of 2100 ft. According to the plan of Admiral Berenger, three naval divisions were to be organised, with headquarters at Cadiz, at Ferrol, and at Carthagena. To these divisions, which were to be composed of ironclads and fast cruisers, will be added auxiliary squadrons, whose special duty will be the defence of the coast. The cruisers Eeina Christina and Eeina Mercedes were able to serve as transports, the cruiser Alfonso XII as a floating workshop.

There were considerable additions to the Spanish fleet in the mid-1890s, and in 1896 there were 1 battle-ship of the first class; 1 port defence ship, 8 cruisers of the first, 6 of the second, and 99 of the third class, and 38 torpedo craft, besides which there were 10 vessels in process of construction. The cruisers of the first class were new vessels, and 6 of them have 12-inch steel belts, a tonnage of 7,000 and an indicated horse power of 13,000. A powerful armored cruiser, the Emperador Carlos V. was launched at Cadiz in 1892. During the year 1895 the Spanish navy was especially unfortunate, losing 4 of her vessels, one being a cruiser of the second and the others of the third class cruisers. In 1896 there were 1002 officers in the Spanish navy, 725 mechanics and other employees, and 14,000 sailors. The marines numbered 9,000. The navy was manned by conscription from the seafaring population.





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