Spanish cruiser Don Juan de Austria

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Infanta Isabel class cruiser.jpg
An unidentified Velasco-class (here called "Infanta Isabel-class") cruiser in U.S. waters during the 1880s or 1890s, showing the appearance of Don Juan de Austria
Career Armada Española Ensign
Name: Don Juan de Austria
Namesake: John of Austria
Builder: Naval shipyard, Cartagena, Spain
Laid down: 1883
Launched: 23 January 1887
Completed: 1888 or 1889
Fate: Sunk 1 May 1898; captured and salvaged by U.S. Navy
General characteristics
Class & type: Velasco-class
Type: unprotected cruiser
Displacement: 1,152 tons
Length: 210 ft 0 in (64.01 m)
Beam: 32 ft 0 in (9.75 m)
Draft: 13 ft 8 in (4.17 m) maximum
Installed power: 1,500 ihp
Propulsion: 1-shaft, horizontal compound, 4-cylinder boilers
Sail plan: barque-rigged
Speed: 13 knots
Complement: 173 officers and enlisted
Armament: 4 x 4.7 inch (120 mm guns
4 × 6 pdr guns
1 x machine gun
2 × 14 inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor: none
Notes: 200 to 220 tons of coal (normal)

Don Juan de Austria was a Velasco-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.

Technical Characteristics[edit]

Don Juan de Austria was built at the naval shipyard at Cartagena, Spain. Her keel was laid in 1883, she was launched on 23 January 1887, and she was completed in 1888 or 1889. She had one rather tall funnel. She had an iron hull and was rigged as a barque.

Operational history[edit]

When the Spanish-American War broke out in April 1898, Don Juan de Austria part of the Pacific Squadron of Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón in Manila Bay.

At 1100 hours on 25 April 1898, Don Juan de Austria and five other ships of the squadron set out for Subic Bay, where Montojo hoped to take advantage of minefields and shore batteries in the likely event of an attack by U.S. Navy forces on his squadron. Arriving there, Montojo found that few of the mines had been laid and the shore batteries had not yet been mounted. At 1030 hours on 29 April 1898, Don Juan de Austria and Montojo's other ships departed Subic Bay to return to Manila Bay, where shore batteries could support Montojo's squadron and where the shallow water might reduce the loss of life if the Spanish ships were sunk. The squadron anchored later that day in Cañacao Bay off Sangley Point, in the lee of the Cavite Peninsula, about eight miles southeast of Manila. Don Juan de Austria made a quick trip to Manila to procure small craft, such as lighters, small boats, and barges, to be tied up alongside cruiser Castilla to protect her wooden hull from hostile gunfire.

When the U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey attacked, early on the morning of 1 May 1898 in the Battle of Manila Bay, Don Juan de Austria was at the extreme end of Montojo's line and at 0445 hours was the first Spanish ship to sight the approaching American warships. Dewey's squadron made a series of slow firing passes at the Spanish squadron.

Don Juan de Austria got underway in an unsuccessful attempt to close with the American warships. Although suffering increasing damage as more and more American shells struck her, she came to the aid of Castilla when Castilla was burning out of control and had to be abandoned. When Montojo's flagship, unprotected cruiser Reina Cristina, also was knocked out of action, Dewey's squadron concentrated its fire on Don Juan de Austria. With her hull riddled and her steering wrecked, she was scuttled in shallow water, coming to rest on the bottom with her upper works above water. After the battle, a boarding party from gunboat USS Petrel went aboard and set the wreck of Don Juan de Austria on fire.

After the war, the U.S. Navy raised and salvaged Don Juan de Austria and commissioned her into the U.S. Navy in 1900 as gunboat USS Don Juan de Austria.

References[edit]

  • 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, 1898. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania:Combined Books, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-938289-57-8.

External links[edit]