USS Isla de Cuba (1886)

  (Redirected from Spanish cruiser Isla de Cuba)

USS Isla de Cuba was a former Spanish Navy second-class protected cruiser of the same name, captured by and commissioned into the United States Navy as a gunboat.

Isla de Cuba Spanish cruiser.jpg
Isla de Cuba soon after completion, probably in a British port
Armada Española EnsignSpain
NameIsla de Cuba
NamesakeThe island of Cuba in the Caribbean
BuilderElswick, United Kingdom
Cost2,400,000 pesetas
Laid down25 February 1886
Launched11 December 1886
Completed22 September 1887
FateScuttled 1 May 1898; captured and salvaged by the United States Navy
NameUSS Isla de Cuba
NamesakeThe island of Cuba (Spanish Navy name retained)
BuilderSir W.G. Armstrong Mitchell & Company, Elswick, Tyne and Wear, England
Laid down25 February 1886
Launched11 December 1886
Completed22 September 1887
Acquiredby capture, 1 May 1898
Commissioned11 April 1900
Decommissioned9 June 1904
In serviceas school ship, March 1907
  • Sold to Venezuela, 2 April 1912
  • Scrapped, 1940
General characteristics
Class and typeIsla de Luzon-class protected cruiser
Displacement950 long tons (970 t)
Length195 ft (59 m)
Beam30 ft (9.1 m)
Draft11 ft 4.75 in (3.4735 m) (mean)
Installed power535 ihp (399 kW)
Speed11.2 kn (12.9 mph; 20.7 km/h)
Capacity160 short tons (150 t) of coal
Complement137 officers and enlisted
ArmorDeck: 1–2.5 in (2.5–6.4 cm)

Service historyEdit

Spanish NavyEdit

Isla de Cuba was built in 1886–87 for the Spanish Navy by Sir W.G. Armstrong Mitchell & Company, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom as a second-class protected cruiser. She fought in the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines during the Spanish–American War in 1898, suffering light damage, and was scuttled after the battle.

Upon completion, Isla de Cuba joined the Metropolitan Fleet in Spain. She participated in the Rif War of 1893–1894, bombarding the reef between Melilla ad Chafarinos. When the Philippine Revolution of 1896–1898 broke out in the Philippines, Isla de Cuba was sent there to join the squadron of Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo de Pasaron.[1]

She was still part of Montojo's squadron when the Spanish–American War began in April 1898. She was anchored with the squadron in Cañacao Bay under the lee of the Cavite Peninsula east of Sangley Point, Luzon, eight miles southwest of Manila, when, early on the morning of 1 May 1898, the United States Navy's Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey, found Montojo's anchorage and attacked. The resulting Battle of Manila Bay was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War.[2]

The wreck of Isla de Cuba.

The American squadron made a series of firing passes, wreaking great havoc on the Spanish ships.[2] At first, Dewey's ships concentrated their fire on Montojo's flagship, unprotected cruiser Reina Cristina, and on unprotected cruiser Castilla, and Isla de Cuba suffered little damage. When Reina Cristina was disabled, Isla de Cuba and her sister ship, Isla de Luzón, came alongside the sinking Reina Cristina to assist her under heavy American gunfire. Admiral Montojo shifted his flag to Isla de Cuba.[1]

When Montojo's squadron had been battered into submission, Isla de Cuba was scuttled in shallow water to avoid capture. Her upper works remained above the water, and a team from gunboat USS Petrel went aboard and set Isla de Cuba on fire.[1]

After the United States occupied the Philippines, the United States Navy seized, salvaged, and repaired Isla de Cuba and commissioned her as a gunboat 1900 for service in the Philippines.[1] The U.S. Navy took possession of her, refloated her, and repaired her damage. The Spanish 4.7 in (120 mm) guns were removed and replaced with 4 in (100 mm) guns mounted on her forecastle and poop deck.[3]

United States NavyEdit

Isla de Cuba was commissioned into the U.S. Navy as USS Isla de Cuba on 11 April 1900 at Hong Kong, China, with Lieutenant J. N. Jordan in command. Following extensive repairs and shakedown out of Hong Kong, she was assigned to the Asiatic Station where she served in several capacities during the revolutionary unrest in the Philippines (see Philippine Revolution) following the Spanish–American War.

As a supply ship and patrol boat she cruised the Philippine Islands. At Ormoc, Leyte, on 17 November 1900, she sent a battalion ashore to hold the town while the U.S. Army garrison leader was away on an expedition against the Philippine insurgents, remaining there in support of the battalion until 8 December. In 1901, she made a survey of Ormoc anchorage and Parasan Harbor; and in March–April 1900 as a unit of the Southern Squadron, she rendered distinguished service in cutting off the Philippine insurgents' supplies in Samar; in helping to capture Vicente Lukbán, the insurgent leader in Samar; in contributing to the general defeat of the insurgents; and in maintaining the close blockade of the island of Samar — all of which contributed to the final declaration of an armistice.

Isla de Cuba ended her service with the Asiatic Station when she departed Cebu for the United States on 4 March 1904. Decommissioning on 9 June at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, she remained there undergoing repairs until 21 March 1907, when she was loaned to the Naval Militia of Maryland for use as a school ship. She was sold at Charleston, South Carolina, to the Republic of Venezuela on 2 April 1912. Renamed Mariscal Sucre, after Marshall Antonio José de Sucre, she served Venezuela until she was scrapped in 1940.

Technical characteristicsEdit

In January 1886, Spain placed orders for two small protected cruisers, Isla de Luzón and Isla de Cuba with the British shipbuilding company Armstrongs to be built at their Elswick, Tyne and Wear shipyard.[4]

The ship was built with a main armament of six 12-centimetre (4.7 in) guns, with a secondary battery of four 6-pounder (57 mm guns), and three 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes. The ship's protective armour deck had a thickness of between 2+12–1 in (64–25 mm), while the ship's conning tower had 2 in (51 mm) of armour.[4]

She was laid down on 25 February 1886, launched on 11 December 1886, and completed on 22 September 1887.[1] She had a steel hull and one funnel.[5] Having a wide beam for her length, she had poor seakeeping qualities and tended to bury her bow in waves.[1] Small for a protected cruiser, she was often called a gunboat by 1898.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f The Spanish–American War Centennial Website: Isla de Cuba
  2. ^ a b Nofi, p. 17–23
  3. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 166
  4. ^ a b Brook 1999, p. 65.
  5. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, p. 384


  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, Eds. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. New York: Mayflower Books Inc., 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Gray, Randal, Ed. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
  • Alden, John D. The American Steel Navy: A Photographic History of the U.S. Navy from the Introduction of the Steel Hull in 1883 to the Cruise of the Great White Fleet, 1907–1909. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1972. ISBN 0-87021-248-6.
  • Brook, Peter. Warships for Export: Armstrongs Warships 1867–1927. Gravesend, UK: World Ship Society, 1999. ISBN 0-905617-89-4.
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, Eds. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. New York, New York: Mayflower Books Inc., 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Nofi, Albert A. The Spanish–American War. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania: Combined Books Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-938289-57-8.
  • Department of the Navy: Naval Historical Center: Online Library of Selected Images: Spanish Navy Ships: 'Isla de Cuba (Cruiser, 1886–1898)

External linksEdit