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The Spanish Navy 1808-1931 - Bourbon Restoration

By 1850 the Spanish navy consisted of two ships-of-the-line, of 74 guns each ; five frigates, of from 62 to 32 guns each ; six sloops-of-war, of from 80 to 11 guns each; ten brigantiues, of from 20 to 6 guns each; three schooners, of from 8 to 6 guns each ; nine gun boats, of 1 gun each ; fifteen steamers, of from 350 to 40 horse] power, mounting from 6 to 2 guns each; and five transports, of from 5 to 2 guns each -mounting, in all, 721 guns, with 223 officers, 1,033 marines, arid 4,949 seamen. The total steam force was equal to 3,038 horse-power.

The Spanish Navy, at the commencement of 1859, had altogether, afloat and building, 82 vessels, carrying in all 887 guns, with engines of the aggregate power of 8160 horses. There are two ships of the line, each of 86 guns; 4 frigates of from 32 to 42; 4 corvettes of from 16 to 30; 9 brigs from 10 to 20; and 16 smaller vessels; besides 10 transports.

As regards steam-vessels, there were 3 frigates, each of 360 horsepower, and carrying from 37 to 50 guns; 5 schooners with horse-power of 80 to 130, each carrying a couple of guns. These are all fitted with the screw. There are besides 3 paddle frigates of 500 horse-power and 16 guns each; 8 brigs 350 horse-power and 6 guns; and 18 schooners of from 100 to 300 horse-power and 2 to 5 guus. On the stocks, there are 2 steam frigates of 360 horse-power and 37 guns each; 2 schooners of 200 horse-power, and 4 of 80. The coastguard was maintained by 24 feluccas and 87 estamparias. The personnel included 1150 officers of all grades. The seamen number 11,750, and the marines 4565.

Under the impetus of a series of periodic scares, the Spanish Government built a few cruisers, gunboats or small ironclads, or fortified an exposed port; but their attempts at reform and reconstruction ended as suddenly as they began, and the navy still remained absolutely useless for purposes of war. It was not until the Caroline dispute with Germany brought fully home to the Spanish people their absolute powerlessness at sea that a move in the right direction was made.

Amid great popular excitement and cries of "Iberia, rediviva", 9,000,000 were voted in 1887 for the reconstruction of the navy. The Cortes, however, were still unwilling to make the sacrifices which the situation of the country demanded; and the value of the vote was discounted by the provision that the expenditure 9,000,000 should be spread over nine years.

The program then agreed upon was briefly as follows: the 9,000,000 were to be spent partly in the completion of vessels already building, partly in the construction of new ones, in the development of naval arsenals, and in submarine defence. The list of new ships comprised 11 cruisers, 10 torpedo-cruisers, 138 torpedo-boats, 1 transport, 28 torpedo-gunboats, and 20 steel sloops. Of the eight cruisers, three were to have a displacement of 5,000 tons, and a speed of 19 knots with natural, and 21 knots with forced draught. Each was to cost about 280,000. The remaining 8 cruisers were to be smaller vessels of 3,200 tons displacement, a speed of 19 knots with natural, and 21 knots with forced draught, and to cost 200,000 a-piece. Six of the torpedo-cruisers were to be of 1,500 tons displacement, possess a speed of 21 knots with natural, and 23 with forced draft, and to cost 100,000 each. The four others were to be 1,100 tons in displacement, have a speed of 18 knots with natural, and 21 with forced draught, costing 80,000 each. Of the torpedo boats 96 were to be from 100 to 120 tons, and cost 24,000 a-piece, the rest 70 tons, costing 16,000. The transport, which was to be fitted as a floating factory, was to cost 100,000.

In this way, a sum exceeding 7,500,000 was accounted for. Furthermore, 280,000 were voted for completing the armour-clad Pelayo, 220,000 for the cruiser Rcina Repente, 52,000 each for the torpedo- cruisers Isla de Cuba and Ida dc Luzon, 32,000 for the torpedo-cruiser Destructor, 40,000 for several first-class torpedo-boats, 40,320 for the Alphonso XII, and a similar sum for the Rcina Cristina, 47,000 for the cruiser Rcina Mercedes, 23,140 for the Conde de Venadito, 27,980 for the Infanta Isabel, 21,300 for the Don Juan de Austria, 26,200 for the Isabel II, 24,840 for the Cristobel Colon, a similar sum for the Don Antonio de Ulloa, and 4,060 for various expenses, giving a total of 904,000. The sum voted for the development of naval arsenals was 400,000 and for submarine defence 100,000.

The Spanish marine infantry were completely reorganized by a Royal Decree of 3rd April 1886. Previous to that date, they consisted of 3 regiments, 2 expeditionary battalions, 2 Philippine companies, 1 administrative company at Madrid, and 1 company in each of the three naval departments. The three regiments were split up into detachments of varying strength for service in the fortified ports and arsenals of the Peninsula. They formed, in their ensemble, a brigade, under the command of a brigadier-general from the inhabitants of the coastal districts. They were organized in tercios, of four companies each, commanded by a lieut.-colonel. The effective of each company is : 1 captain, 3 lieutenants, 1 sublieutenant, 1 sergeant-major, 5 sergeants, 16 corporals, 5 buglers, and 120 men.

The Pelago - the only ironclad of importance in the Spanish navy - was built at La Seyne by the Societe Anonyme des Forges ct Chantiers de la Mediterranee. She was laid down in April 1885, launched in February 1887. The extreme rapidity of construction is due to the large sums voted for pushing on the work, and to the fact that the Forges et Chantiers not only constructed the hull, but provided engines, armament, and fittings. Several French vessels of equal size, laid down before the Pelayo, were not likely to be ready for sea until 1890.

The Pelayo was a barbette ship of 9,900 tons displacement. Her principal dimensions are : Extreme length . . 343 ft. 2 in. Extreme breadth . . 65 ft. 8 in. Draught of water aft . 24 ft. 7 in. The hull, built of the best French steel, is divided into a large number of water-tight compartments. A double water-tight bottom, constructed of steel plates resting on a framework, extends the whole length of the ship; and the safety of the vessel is further ensured by an armored deck and belt at the water-line. The former consists of Creusot steel plating 90 mm. in thickness, except on the hatches, where the strength of the armor is trebled. The belt, 21 metres in height, varies between 300 mm. and 450 mm. in thickness. The steel plates used for the protection of the Pelayo were practically tested at Gavres in 1886, by a special commission of Spanish officers, and favorably reported upon.

The Pelayo is as formidable in attack as in defence. Her offensive armament comprises a strong steel ram ; two 32 cm., two 28 cm., one 16 cm., and twelve 12 cm. Hontoria breechloaders; a large number of machine- guns and Schwartzkopf torpedo-launching tubes. The four heavy guns are mounted in as many barbette turrets arranged quadrilaterally on the upper deck. The 12 cm. guns are arranged in battery 'tween decks.

The engines, constructed on the compound vertical system, work twin screws. They develop 8,000 indicated horse-power at ordinary, and upwards of 9,600 at forced draught. The contract speed of fifteen knots at ordinary draught was considerably exceeded at the trials which took place near the Hyeres Islands last month.

The mean speed of four runs over a course of six knots was found to be 16.215 knots per hour. Owing to the construction of the hull, which was built for a speed of sixteen knots, only half a knot extra was obtained under forced draught. The Spanish authorities were, however, very well satisfied with their "only armor-clad."

The Vitoria, launched in 1865, was an iron broadside ship of 7,250 tons displacement, 318 ft. 3 in. in length between perpendiculars, 55 ft. 10 in. in beam, and 25 ft. 3 in in draught. She is protected at the water- line by an armour belt, 5 in. in thickness, and carried 5 in. plates on the battery. The armament consists of eight 9-in. and three 8-in. Armstrong muzzle-loading guns, two machine-guns, and six torpedo-launching tubes. The Vitoria has one propeller. The engines, of 4,500 indicated horse-power, give a speed of 11 knots.

The Numancia, another iron broadside ship of 7,300 tons displacement, was launched in 1863. She is 314 ft. 10. in. in length between perpendiculars, 55 ft. 9 in. in beam, and draws 25 ft. 3 in. of water. Her armour is similar to that of the Vitoria, but her armament is composed of eight 10-in. and seven 8-in. Armstrong muzzle-loaders, two machine-guns, and eight torpedo-launching tubes. Her speed, however, is only 8 knots, with engines of 3,700 indicated horse-power.

The Sagunto, a wooden broadside ship, was launched in 1865. Her displacement is 7,350 tons, length 292 ft., beam 55 ft. 10 in., draught of water 25 ft. 3 in. The armor is 6 in. thick on the belt and battery. With engines of 3,700 horse-power, the Sagunto has a speed of 8 knots. Her armament comprises eight 9-in. muzzle-loading Armstrong and three 7-in. Palliser guns with two machine guns and eight torpedo-launching tubes.

Of the remaining ironclads, the Mendez-Nunez, a wooden broadside ship of 3,380 tons displacement, was launched in 1861; the Zaragoza, a similar vessel of 5,620 tons, in 1867 ; the Puig-Cerda, an iron monitor for coast defence, and the Duque de Tetuan, an armoured gunboat, in 1874. The unarmoured fleet consists of 50 vessels, varying between 400 and 5,000 tons displacement. Of these, 20 hade an average age of a quarter of a century.

The Reina Rajente, the type of several protected cruisers, was launched in February 1887 from the yards of Messrs. Thompson 6 Co. She is 330 feet in length over all, and 318 ft. between perpendiculars. Her breadth is 50i ft., draught of water 20 ft., and displacement 5,000 tons, including 500 tons of coal. She is provided with an armoured deck of steel plates, from 3 in. to 4} in. in thickness, and is divided, both above and below this deck, into a large number of watertight -compartments. Between wind and water there are 83 compartments, used for the most part for the storage of coal, and below the armored deck are 60 compartments. A double bottom protects the whole length and breadth of the ship. The engines, which are of the triple expansion type, are placed horizontally in separate compartments immediately below the armored deck. They drive twin screws, and, with an indicated horse-power of 11,000, give a speed of 20 knots.

The armament consisted of four 9-in. Hontoria breech-loading guns, weighing 21 tons displacement constructed on the same lines as the Velasco, which was launched in England in 1885. Their principal dimensions are : length between perpendiculars, 210 ft., beam 32 ft. 2 in., draught of water 12 ft. 5 in. The armament of the Cristobal Colon, Don Antonia Ulloa, and Don Juan de Austria, consists of three 6-in. breech-loading guns, two 3^-in. breech-loading guns, and 5 machine-guns ; that of the Infanta Isabel and Isabel Scgunda, of five 4|-in. Hontoria breech-loaders, five machine-guns, and two torpedo-launching tubes. Two other vessels, Alfonso XIII. and Lepanto, were constructed on the same lines.

Five sister vessels, the Cristobal Colon, Don Antonio Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Infanta Isabel, and Isabel Secunda, were added during the course of three years to the Spanish navy. They are iron cruisers of 1,130. The first three vessels have one propeller, driven by engines of 1,600 indicated horse-power, the others two propellers with engines of 1,500 horse-power. The speed of each is 14 knots, and sufficient coal is carried for a seven days' voyage. The construction of the hulls is cellular. The Infanta Isabel, for instance, has ten watertight compartments. The latter vessel, launched at Carraca in July 1885, was the first iron cruiser built in Spain. Three steel cruisers of 3,000 tons displacement, Alfonso XII., Reina Christina, and Reina Mercedes, were launched last year. They are sister vessels, 279 ft. long, and 42 ft. broad, drawing 16^ ft. of water. They carry eight 6-in. and four 3J-in. Hontoria breech- loading guns, besides two machine-guns and two torpedo-launching tubes. The coal supply is 600 tons. Their speed, with engines of 4,800 horse-power, is 17J- knots.

Two small cruisers, the Isla de Cuba, and Isla de Luzon, built by Messrs. Armstrong, Mitchell, & Co., were 185 feet in length, 30 feet in breadth, and of 1,030 tons displacement, with a draught of 11 feet 6 inches. Their speed is 16 knots, with triple expansion engines of 2,200 horse-power. The coal supply is 160 tons. Both vessels carry six 43-inch guns, four 6-pounder quick-firing Hotchkiss guns, and three torpedo-launching tubes.

The torpedo-boat catcher, El Destructor, built by Messrs. J. & G. Thompson & Co., of Clydebank, and launched in 1887, was one of the fastest vessels afloat. Her principal dimensions are: displacement, 458 tons; length, 192 feet; beam, 25 feet; mean draught, 7 feet. With two triple expansion-engines of 3,800 indicated horse-power she can attain a speed of 22 knots. The engines and boilers are placed in separate compartments, protected by steel plates of from 20 to 44 mm. in thickness, and surrounded by the coal bunkers. The hull, which is built of the best steel, is divided into twenty-two watertight compartments. The armament consists of one 9 cm. Hontoria gun on the forecastle, with an all-round fire, four quick-firing guns, and two Nordenfelt machine-guns. There are, moreover, three torpedo-launching tubes-two forward, and the third aft. The Destructor is fitted with three masts, which are so hinged that the whole rig can be dismantled in three minutes. The vessel is, moreover, provided with a powerful electric light. The crew consists of forty- five men all told, and sufficient provisions are carried for three months' service.

The Orion, built by the Germania Company, of Kiel, was a good example of the new Spanish torpedo-boats. She is 124 feet in length between perpendiculars, 15 feet 6 inches in beam, draws 3 feet 4 inches of water, and has a displacement of 88 tons. She is divided into eight compartments by seven watertight bulkheads, and each of the compartments is provided with a pump capable of ejecting 45 tons per hour. Furthermore, an auxiliary pump has a capacity of 125 tons per hour. The engines, of 1,000 indicated horse-power, give a speed of 21J knots per hour with 340 revolutions per minute. The engines are of three-cylinder vertical type. The coal supply of 16 tons is suflicient for a run of 1,964 nautical miles. Twenty Edison lamps, worked by a Brush dynamo, serve to illuminate the vessel; and the same engine is used for a projector of 6,000 candle-power capable of illuminating the surrounding area to a distance of 4,300 yards. The offensive armament of the Orion consists of four Schwartzkopf torpedoes, and two 37 mm. Hotchkiss guns.

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Page last modified: 29-11-2015 19:01:20 ZULU