U.S.S. Maine (ACR-1)
U.S.S. Maine ( *ACR-1) was an American naval ship that sank in Havana Harbor during the Cuban revolt against Spain, an event that became a major political issue in the United States.
Commissioned in 1895
Originally classified as an armored cruiser, she was built in response to the Riachuelo and the increase of naval forces in Latin America. Maine and her near-sister ship Texas reflected the latest European naval developments, with the layout of her main armament resembling that of the British ironclad Inflexible and comparable Italian ships.
Her two gun turrets
Her two gun turrets were staggered en échelon, rather than on the centerline, with the fore gun, sponsored out on the starboard side of the ship and the aft gun on the port side, with cutaways in the superstructure to allow both to fire ahead, astern or across her deck. She dispensed with full masts thanks to the increased reliability of steam engines by the time of her construction.
Due to her protracted construction period, changes in the role of ships of her type, naval tactics, and technology. Maine was out of date by the time she entered service, Despite these advances.
It took nine years to complete, and nearly three years for the armor plating alone. The general use of steel in warship construction precluded the use of ramming without danger to the attacking vessel.
The potential for blast damage from firing end on or cross-deck discouraged en échelon gun placement.
On February 15, 1898, the American battleship U.S.S. Maine exploded while sitting in the
Havana harbor, killing two officers and 250 enlisted men. Fourteen of the injured later
died, bringing the death toll to 266. A naval board of inquiry concluded that the blast
was caused by a mine placed outside the ship. The release of the board’s report led many to
accuse Spain of sabotage, helping to build public support for the war. Subsequent studies,
including one published in 1976 and later reissued in 1995, determined that the ship was
destroyed from the inside when burning coal in a bunker triggered an explosion in an
adjacent space that contained ammunition.
“Remember The Maine, To hell with Spain”!
This became a rallying cry for action, which came with the Spanish–American War later that year. While the sinking of Maine was not a direct cause for action, it served as a catalyst, accelerating the approach to a diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Spain.
The cause of U.S.S. Maine’s sinking remained a subject of speculation. In 1898, an investigation of the explosion was carried out by a naval board appointed under the McKinley Administration. The consensus of the board was that Maine was destroyed by an external explosion from a mine.
Fire in a coal bunker
However, the validity of this investigation has been challenged. George W. Melville, a chief engineer in the Navy. George proposed that a more likely cause for the sinking was from a magazine explosion within the vessel. The Navy’s leading ordnance expert, Philip R. Alger, took this theory further by suggesting that the magazines were ignited by a spontaneous fire in a coal bunker. The coal used in Maine was bituminous coal, which is known for releasing firedamp, a gas that is prone to spontaneous explosions.
There is stronger evidence that the explosion of U.S.S. Maine was caused by an internal coal fire which ignited the magazines. This was a likely cause of the explosion, rather than the initial hypothesis of a mine. The ship lay at the bottom of the harbor until 1911. A cofferdam was then built around the wreck. The hull was patched up until the ship was afloat, then towed to sea and sunk. The U.S.S. Maine now lies on the sea-bed 3,600 feet (1,100 m) below the surface.
*Armored Cruiser 1
There is a U.S.S. Maine display at The Naples Museum Of Military History
Here some photo’s of the new U.S.S, Maine display at The Naples Museum Of Military History.
A sample of the coal from Ft Jefferson and a section of the cable that ran from Havana Cuba to the station in Punta Rassa, Fl.
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