Author(s): O. P. Jons
On February 15, 1898 an explosion rocked the Havana harbor in Cuba, then a
Within minutes, the USS “Maine” sank to the bottom and 266
officers and sailors lost their lives.
After a rushed investigation the verdict came
in: an exterior mine had been planted under the ship, perhaps by the Spanish.
Ten weeks after the sinking, the U.S.
and Spain were at war.
A second, detailed
investigation into the sinking (in 1911) confirmed the official U.S.
version of the events.
Still, the mystery remained.
A detailed analysis of the damage evidence is presented which will solve the
battle cry “Remember the MAINE! To hell with Spain!”
should not have been uttered.
USS MAINE, maritime history, mine explosions, coal fires, Spanish
American war, forensics, ship wrecks.
1 Historical background: 1898 - the sinking
In the late 1800’s, tensions had been built in Cuba, then a Spanish colony, where
Cuban separatists fought the Spanish forces.
When riots broke out in the streets
of Havana in January of 1898, President McKinley ordered one of his
battleships, the USS MAINE, to visit Cuba, Figure 1.
The MAINE was built in 1895.
Originally designed as an armored cruiser, it
had been redesignated a second-class battleship.
Its primary armament consisted
of four 10 inch guns in two turrets in “echelon”, (one forward, to starboard, and
the other aft, to port) and six 6 inch guns, as well as various smaller guns.
Powder and shells for the guns were stowed in magazines deep within the ship,
well below the protective deck.
The ship had four coal-fired boilers in each of
two separate boiler rooms.
Coal was stored in large bunkers around the boiler
rooms and magazines.
When fully loaded, the ship carried 822 tons of coal.
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Paper DOI: 10.2495/MH050131
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