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USS Maine BB-10 - History

USS Maine BB-10 - History



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USS Maryland BB-46

Maryland III
(BB-46: dp. 32,600; 1. 624'; b. 97'6"; dr. 30'6", s. 21.17 k.; cpl. 1,080; a. 8 16", 12 5", 4 3", 4 6-pdr., 2 21" tt.;cl. Colorado)

A History of the USS Maryland

Maryland (BB-46) was laid down 24 April 1917 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 20 March 1920, sponsored by Mrs. E. Brook Lee wife of the Comptroller of the State of Maryland; and commissioned 21 July 1921, Capt. C. F. Preston in command.

With a new type seaplane catapult and the first 16-inch guns mounted on a U.S. ship, Maryland was the pride of the Navy. Following an east coast shakedown she found herself in great demand for special occasions. She appeared at Annapolis for the 1922 Naval Academy graduation and at Boston for the anniversary of Bunker Hill and the Fourth of July. Between 18 August and 2., September she paid her first visit to a foreign port transporting Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes to Rio de Janeiro for Brazil's Centennial Exposition. The next year, after fleet exercises off the Panama Canal Zone. Maryland transited the canal in the latter part of June to join the battle fleet stationed on the west coast.

She made a good will voyage to Australia and New Zealand in 1925, and transported President-elect Herbert Hoover off the Pacific leg of his tour of Latin America in 1928. Throughout these years and the 1930's she served as a mainstay of fleet readiness through tireless training operations. In 1940 Maryland and the other battleships of the battle force changed their bases of operations to Pearl Harbor. She was present at battleship row along Ford Island when Japan struck 7 December 1941.

A gunner's mate striker, writing a letter near his machine gun, brought the first of his ship's guns into play, shooting down one of two attacking torpedo planes. Inboard of the Oklahoma and thus protected from the initial torpedo attack Maryland managed to bring all her antiaircraft batteries into action. Despite two bomb hits she continued to fire and, after the attack, sent fire fighting parties to assist her sister ships. The Japanese announced that she had been sunk, but 30 December, battered Yet sturdy, she entered the repair yard at Puget Bound Navy Yard.

She emerged 26 February.1942 not only repaired but modernized and ready for great service. During the important Battle of Midway, the old battleships, not fast enough to accompany the carriers, operated as a backup force. Thereafter Maryland engaged in almost constant training exercises until 1 August, when she returned to Pearl Harbor.

Assigned sentinel duty along the southern supply routes to Australia and the Pacific fighting fronts, Maryland and Colorado operated out of the Fiji Islands in November and advanced to the New Hebrides in February 1943. Her return to Pearl Harbor after 10 months in the heat off the South Pacific brought the installation of additional 40mm. antiaircraft protection.

In the vast amphibious campaigns of the Pacific the firepower of Maryland and her sister ships played a key role. Departing the Hawaiian Islands 20 October for the South Pacific, Maryland became flagship for Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill's Southern Attack Force in the Gilberts Invasion, with Maj. Gen. Julian C. Smith, Commander, 2d Marine Division, embarked. Early on 20 November her big guns commenced 5 days of shore bombardment and call fire assignment in support of one of the most gallant amphibious assaults in history, at Tarawa. After the island's capture, she remained in the area protecting the transports until she headed back ~ to the United States 7 December.

Maryland steamed from San Pedro 13 January 1944, rendezvoused with TF 53 at Hawaii, and sailed in time to be in position off the well-fortified Kwajelein Atoll in the Marshalls on the morning of the 31st. Assigned to reduce pillboxes and blockhouses on Roi Island, the old battleship fired splendidly all day and again the following morning until the assault waves were within 500 yards of the beach. Following the operation she steamed back to Bremerton, Wash., for new guns and an overhaul.

Two months later Maryland, again readied for battle sailed westward 5 May to participate in the biggest campaign yet attempted in the Pacific war—Saipan. Vice Adm. R. K. Turner allotted TF 52 3 days to soften up the island before the assault. Firing commenced 0545 on 14 June. Silencing two coastal guns, Maryland encountered little opposition as she delivered one. devastating barrage after another. The Japanese attempted to strike back through the air. On the 18th the ship's guns claimed their first victim but 4 days later a Betty sneaked in flying low over the still-contested Saipan hills and found tw o anchored battleships. Crossing the bow of Pennsylvania, she dropped a torpedo which opened a gaping hole in Maryland's portside. Casualties were light and in 15 minutes she was underway for Eniwetok, and shortly thereafter to the repair yards at Pearl Harbor.

With an around-the-clock effort by the shipyard workers, on 13 August, 34 days after arrival, the ship again steamed north for the war zone. Rehearsing briefly in the Solomons she Joined Rear Adm. J. B. Oldendorf's Western Fire Support Group (TG 32.5) bound for the Palau Islands. Firing first on 12 September to cover minesweeping operations and underway After demolition teams, she continued the shore bombardment until the landing craft approached the beaches on the 15th. Four days dater organized resistance collapsed, permitting the fire support ships to retire to the Admiralty Islands.

Reassigned to the 7th Fleet, Maryland sortied 12 October to cover the important initial landings in the Philippines at Leyte. Despite floating mines, the invasion force entered Leyte Gulf! on the 18th. The bombardment the following day and the landings of the 20th went well, but the Japanese decided to contest this success with both kamikazes and a three-pronged naval attack.

Forewarned by submarines and scout planes, the American battleship-cruiser force steamed 24 October to the southern end of Leyte Gulf to protect Surigao Strait. Early on the 25th the enemy battleships Fuso and Yamishiro led the Japanese advance into the Strait. The waiting Americans pounded the. enemy ships severely. First came torpedoes from the fleeting PT boats, then more torpedoes from this daring destroyers. Next came gunfire from the cruisers. Finally, at Q355 the readied guns of the battle. ship line opened fire. Thunderous salvos of heavy caliber fire slowed the enemy force and set the Japanese battle ships on fire. Leaving their doomed battleships behind, the decimated enemy ships fled; only a remnant of the original force escaped subsequent naval air attacks. Similarly other U.S. forces blunted and repulsed attacks by the center and northern enemy forces during the decisive Battle for Leyte Gulf.

In the aftermath of this important victory, Maryland patrolled the southern approaches to Surigao Strait until 29 October; after replenishment at Manus, Admiralties, she resumed patrol duty 10 November. Japanese air attacks continued to pose a definite threat. During a raid on 27 November, guns of TG 77.2 splashed 11 of the attacking planes. Shortly after sunset 2 days later, a determined suicide plane dove through the clouds and crashed J!Maryland between t.turrets Nos. 1 and 2. Thirty-one sailors died in the explosion and fire that followed; however, the sturdy battleship continued her patrols until relieved 2 December. She reached Pearl Harbor 19 December and during the next 2 months workmen repaired and refitted "Fighting Mary."

After refresher training, Maryland headed for the western Pacific 4 March 1945, arriving Ulithi the 16th. There she joined Rear Adm. M. L. Deyo's TF 54 and on 21 March departed for the invasion of Okinawa. She closed the coast off Okinawa 25 March and began pounding assigned targets along the southeastern part of the Japanese island fortress. In addition, she provided fire support during a diversionary raid on the southeast coast drawing enemy defenses from the main amphibious landings on the western beaches. On 3 April she received a 9re support call from Minneapolis. (CA - 6). The cruiser was unable to silence entrenched shore batteries with 8-inch fire and called on "Fighting Mary's" mighty 16-inch guns for aid. The veteran battleship hurled six salvos which destroyed the enemy artillery.

Maryland continued fire support duty until 7 April when she sailed with TF 54 to intercept a Japanese surface force to the northward. These ships, including mighty battleship Yamato, came under intense air attacks that same day and planes of the Fast Carrier Task Force sank six of 10 ships in the force. At dusk on the 7th Maryland took her third hit from enemy planes in 10 months. A suicide plane loaded with a 500-pound bomb crashed the top of turret No. 3 from starboard. The explosion wiped out the 20mm. mounts, causing 53 casualties. As before, however, she continued to blast enemy shore positions with devastating 16 inch fire. While guarding the western transport area 12 April, she splashed two planes during afternoon raids.

On 14 April Maryland left the firing line as escort for re,tiring transports. Steaming via the Marianas and Pearl Harbor, she reached Puget Sound 7 May and entered the Navy Yard at Bremerton the next day for extensive overhaul. Completing repairs in August, she now entered the "Magic Carpet" fleet. During the next 4 months she made five voyages between the west coast and Pearl Harbor, returning more than 9,000 combat veterans to the United States.

Arriving Seattle, Wash., 17 December, she completed "Magic Carpet" duty. She entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 15 April 1940 and was placed in commission in reserve on an inactive basis 15 July. She decommissioned at Bremerton 3 April 1947 and remained there as a unit of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Maryland was sold for scrapping to Learner Co. in Oakland, Calif., 8 July 1959.

On 2 June 1901 the Honorable J. Millard Tawes, Governor of Maryland, dedicated a lasting monument to the memory of the venerable battleship and her fighting men. Built of granite and bronze and incorporating the bell of "Fighting Mary," this monument honors a ship and her men whose service to the Nation reflected the highest traditions off the naval service. This monument is located on the grounds of the State House, Annapolis, Md.

Maryland received seven battle stars for World War II service.


USS Maine BB-10 - History

Departed for gunnery tests off the Virginia Capes. Further gunnery tests continued out of
Newport News until Oct. 14. Then moved to the ranges off Culebra Island and further sea
trials off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Departed Tompkinsville, New York for torpedo trials off Cape Henry, Virginia. After which
Maine participated in Fleet exercises and battle practice off Cuba and Florida.

Arrived off the U.S. east coast and engaged in battle practice off Martha's Vineyard,
Massachusetts.

Departed the Boston Naval Shipyard after post cruise repairs. Stayed in New York for a
short period then engaged in training off Cuba and Florida.

Arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. While there was visited by
Prince Louis of Battenberg (Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten,
later 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma) and the Governor of Maryland.

Arrived at San Francisco, California. Maine was detached from the Fleet and entered the
Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs. Following repairs sailed for the Philippines
touching at Honolulu, Hawaii and Apra Harbor, Guam.

Departed Manila to return to the U.S. Touching at Singapore and Aden, then sailing through
the Suez Canal arriving at Port Said, Egypt on Sept. 10. The next day sailed from Port Said
and touched at Naples, Italy and returned to the U.S.

Departed Portsmouth for trials. Maine conducted trials and exercises off the U.S. east coast
and also underwent a repair period at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard followed by more
exercises.

Arrived at the New York Naval Shipyard and was placed in reserve and was used as
a receiving ship.

Departed New York for Fleet exercises off Newport, Rhode Island Hampton Roads,
Virginia.

Departed from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard following repairs for a training cruise
which included visits to Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, Mobile, Alabama,
Key West, Florida and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Departed New York, Maine was used for training engineers, seaman and armed guards
for merchant ships for the rest of the First World War.

Departed Hampton Roads, Virginia for exercises and practice off Cuba and the Virgin
Islands, then returned to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for repairs on Apr. 5, 1919.

Departed Philadelphia and embarked midshipmen at Annapolis, Maryland for a training
cruise in the Caribbean. Touching at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and
the Canal Zone. Then moved back to the U.S. east coast.

Arrived at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Maine remained in reserve until
decommissioned.


USS Maine (ACR-1)

Shortly after the close of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the United States government ordered construction of a new armed steamer on August 3rd, 1888 to coincide with rising naval aspirations in Latin and South America. The vessel was originally named "Armored Cruiser #1" ("ACR-1") but renamed as the USS Maine and classified as a "Second-class Battleship". Her keel was laid down by New York Naval Shipyard of Brooklyn, New York on October 17th, 1888. She was formally launched on November 18th, 1890 and commissioned on September 17th, 1895. At the time of her commissioning, she became just the second battleship of the United States Navy (USN) and the first vessel to carry the name of "Maine".

Owing much of her design to developments perfected in Europe, the USS Maine came about at a period when steam engine technology had advanced to such a point that there proved less reliance on sail power. As such, sail-fitting masts were excluded from her design, replaced instead by a pair of observation masts - one fitted fore and other aft of amidships. At center, there was the superstructure and twin smoke funnels dominating her profile. Armament included a mix of guns led by 2 x 10" (254mm) guns in a fore and aft twin-gun turret. This was supplemented by 6 x 6" (152mm) guns in single-gun turrets about her design. 7 x Driggs-Schroeder 6-pounder (57mm/2.2") guns were also installed as were 4 x Hotchkiss 1-pounder (37mm/1.5") guns. For close-in work, 4 x Gatling guns were used. The vessel was also given torpedo-launching facilities through 4 x 18" (457mm) launchers mounted above the water line. Armor protection (of nickel steel) for this fighting ship included 12 inches at the belt, up to 3 inches at the top deck, 8 inches at the main turrets and 10 inches at the superstructure. Power was served through 8 x Scotch coal-fed boilers driving 2 x vertical triple expansion steam engines with 2 x shafts. Maximum speed in ideal conditions was 16 knots with a range of approximately 6,670 kilometers. The vessel was crewed by 374 personnel.

One interesting design arrangement of the USS Maine was her main gun armament concentrated across two round turrets, these offset from centerline to allow for both guns to fire ahead, to the rear and to either side as needed - allowing all four main guns to be conceivably brought to bear on the target (there did prove a balance issue with the Maine concerning her turret configuration however). The forward turret was offset to the starboard side while the aft turret was offset to port. Each turret relied on hydraulic power for their traversal and elevation. In the original line work, the 10" main guns were to be seated in open-air barbettes though this was updated to enclosed turrets during construction.

USS Maine began her ocean-going career in November of 1895 and ended at Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey. From there, she moved on to Newport, Rhode Island and then to Portland, Maine, joining the North Atlantic Squadron on exercise. She based largely out of Norfolk, Virginia and spent much of her years along the American East Coast and in Caribbean waters. When issues in Cuba with the local populace began to mount and threaten Americans and American interest on the island (at this time governed by Spain), the USS Maine was sent to berth at Havana Harbor. The ship was given a guarded approval by the Spanish government.

Tensions between Cubans and Spain had been rising for decades as the island people sought their independence. A campaign spread to the United States to garner support for such a move and a 1868-1878 initiative was put down by the Spanish. This resulted in a second attempt that saw tens of thousands of Cubans killed in response.

Tensions between the Spanish and the Americans were no better for, in October of 1873, the Spanish captured the USS Virginius, a side-wheel steamer originating as a Confederate vessel during the American Civil War (captured by the North in April of 1865). The Virginius was actively in support of Cuban independence and promptly targeted by Spanish authorities as a result. The vessel was eventually hunted down and captured to which 53 of its crew (both British and American in nationality) executed. This event nearly brought the US (and Britain) to war with Spain. The incident did serve to showcase to the Americans the deficiency in their ironclad strength when compared to the Spanish and this sparked a new US naval program for five such vessels to be constructed.

The story of the USS Maine would take a disastrous turn one February evening. At 9:40PM, on February 15th, 1898, the vessel was rocked by a massive explosion as five tons of her powder charge (located at the forward magazine) ignited while most of the USS Maine crew was asleep. The frontal section of the Maine was completely blown off and 260 personnel were killed where they lay or stood while others soon followed through their received injuries. Many were enlisted personnel for officers generally stationed at the rear of the ship. The complete loss of the vessel's forecastle then forced the open hulk to take on water and begin sinking in the harbor. Nearby Spanish elements sprung into action to provide assistance to the wounded and help to control fires.

After a four week investigation, a US naval committee agreed that the likely culprit for the explosion was a naval mine of unknown origin. It was believed that the mine rolled up against the hull of the Maine and detonated, in turn detonating her forward magazine, causing the deadly explosion. Once news of the results reached the American people, calls for reprisal began to spring up, urged by press outlets playing upon the anger of the public. Forced to action, then-US President McKinley ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to which Spain returned with a formal declaration of war on the United States on April 25th, 1898, thusly beginning the Spanish-American War (April 25, 1898 - August 12th, 1898). The war would last a little over 3.5 months, result in tens of thousands dead and removed Spain as an official world power - the Spanish Empire and all its prestige now ceased to exist. In turn, the war signaled the United States a bonafide world power. The conflict was concluded with the Treaty of Paris signed in 1898 as Spain sued for peace, giving Cuban control to the US government. The sinking of the USS Maine proved a definitive catalyst to the US going to war against the European power.

During the span of 1911 and 1912, the United States Navy moved into Havana Harbor to attempt to raise the hulk of the USS Maine, both to remove it as an obstruction and to study its damage. An inquiry supported the naval mine theory from previous to which the Maine was then moved towed several miles north of Havana until sunk under the direction of the USN with full military honors afforded her dead.

Despite the formal findings, many experts agree that the cause of the explosion was in fact related to a spontaneous combustion of coal at the bunker located adjacent to the six-inch gun magazine. However, the sinking of the USS Maine still remains unresolved for students of naval history.

The USN honored its first Maine by laying down the keel to a second one year after her loss. This USS Maine became a part of the US "Great White Fleet" touring the world in a show of force.


Loss of Maine

At 9:40 on the evening of February 15, the harbor was lit by a massive explosion that ripped through the forward section of Maine as five tons of powder for the ship's guns detonated. Destroying the forward third of the ship, Maine sank into the harbor. Immediately, assistance came from the American steamer City of Washington and the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII, with boats circling the burning remains of the battleship to collect the survivors. All told, 252 were killed in the blast, with another eight dying ashore in the days that followed.


The Sinking of the USS Maine: February 15, 1898


On February 15, 1898, at 9:40 p.m., the battleship USS Maine exploded then sank in Havana Harbor, killing about 260 of the 355 men on board. This international disaster, which was blamed on Spain, became an important catalyst for the Spanish-American War.

At the time, Cuban guerillas were engaged in a brutal fight for independence from Spain. Riots in Havana in January 1898 prompted the United States, which supported Cuba for both humanitarian and imperialistic reasons, to send the Maine to Havana as a show of strength. The ship, commanded by Captain Charles Sigsbee, arrived on January 25 and sat quietly in the harbor for the next few weeks.


But on the night of February 15, two explosions rocked the ship, sinking the Maine. The casualties were predominantly among the enlisted men, as they were quartered in the forward part of the ship, where the explosions occurred.

Although there was no hard evidence that the sinking was caused by the Spanish, a sizeable portion of the American public began clamoring for retribution almost immediately, spurred on by “yellow press” accounts that focused on sensationalism more than fact. “Remember the Maine!” quickly became a rallying cry.

An official U.S. court of inquiry was set up soon after the loss of the Maine to investigate the cause. Its findings, which did not assign blame, revealed in March that the sinking was caused by an underwater mine, which had led to the explosion of the forward magazines. Under pressure from all sides, the pro-peace William McKinley finally saw war with Spain as inevitable (for a number of reasons, though the Maine was the most visible instigating event). President McKinley asked Congress for a resolution of war, which was declared on April 25.


In later years, two other major investigations into the loss of the Maine were completed. A second official investigation in 1911 came to the same conclusion as in 1898: the Maine had sunk as the result of a mine. However, an investigation led by Admiral Hyman Rickover concluded in 1976 that the explosions were caused by a coal-bunker fire adjacent to one of the ship’s magazines. Disagreement and speculation on the cause of the sinking continues to this day.


Contents

The delivery of the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo in 1883 and the acquisition of other modern armored warships from Europe by Brazil, Argentina and Chile the House Naval Affairs Committee, Hilary A. Herbert, stated to Congress: "if all this old navy of ours were drawn up in battle array in mid-ocean and confronted by Riachuelo it is doubtful whether a single vessel bearing the American flag would get into port." [6] These developments helped bring to a head a series of discussions that had been taking place at the Naval Advisory Board since 1881. The board knew at that time that the U.S. Navy could not challenge any major European fleet at best, it could wear down an opponent's merchant fleet and hope to make some progress through general attrition there. Moreover, projecting naval force abroad through the use of battleships ran counter to the government policy of isolationism. While some on the board supported a strict policy of commerce raiding, others argued it would be ineffective against the potential threat of enemy battleships stationed near the American coast. The two sides remained essentially deadlocked until Riachuelo manifested. [7]

The board, now confronted with the concrete possibility of hostile warships operating off the American coast, began planning for ships to protect it in 1884. The ships had to fit within existing docks and had to have a shallow draft to enable them to use all the major American ports and bases. The maximum beam was similarly fixed, and the board concluded that at a length of about 300 feet (91 m), the maximum displacement would be about 7,000 tons. A year later the Bureau of Construction and Repair (C & R) presented two designs to Secretary of the Navy William Collins Whitney, one for a 7,500-ton battleship and one for a 5,000-ton armored cruiser. Whitney decided instead to ask Congress for two 6,000-ton warships, and they were authorized in August 1886. A design contest was held, asking naval architects to submit designs for the two ships: armored cruiser Maine and battleship Texas. It was specified that Maine had to have a speed of 17 knots (31 km/h 20 mph), a ram bow, and a double bottom, and be able to carry two torpedo boats. Her armament was specified as: four 10-inch (254 mm) guns, six 6-inch (152 mm) guns, various light weapons, and four torpedo tubes. It was specifically stated that the main guns "must afford heavy bow and stern fire." [8] Armor thickness and many details were also defined. Specifications for Texas were similar, but demanded a main battery of two 12-inch (305 mm) guns and slightly thicker armor. [9]

The winning design for Maine was from Theodore D. Wilson, who served as chief constructor for C & R and was a member on the Naval Advisory Board in 1881. He had designed a number of other warships for the navy. [10] The winning design for Texas was from a British designer, William John, who was working for the Barrow Shipbuilding Company at that time. Both designs resembled the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo, having the main gun turrets sponsoned out over the sides of the ship and echeloned. [11] The winning design for Maine, though conservative and inferior to other contenders, may have received special consideration due to a requirement that one of the two new ships be American–designed. [12]

Congress authorized construction of Maine on 3 August 1886, and her keel was laid down on 17 October 1888, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was the largest vessel built in a U.S. Navy yard up to that time. [13]

Maine ' s building time of nine years was unusually protracted, due to the limits of U.S. industry at the time. (The delivery of her armored plating took three years and a fire in the drafting room of the building yard, where Maine ' s working set of blueprints were stored, caused further delay.) In the nine years between her being laid down and her completion, naval tactics and technology changed radically and left Maine ' s role in the navy ill-defined. At the time she was laid down, armored cruisers such as Maine were intended to serve as small battleships on overseas service and were built with heavy belt armor. Great Britain, France and Russia had constructed such ships to serve this purpose and sold others of this type, including Riachuelo, to second-rate navies. Within a decade, this role had changed to commerce raiding, for which fast, long-range vessels, with only limited armor protection, were needed. The advent of lightweight armor, such as Harvey steel, made this transformation possible. [14]

As a result of these changing priorities, Maine was caught between two separate positions and could not perform either one adequately. She lacked both the armor and firepower to serve as a ship-of-the-line against enemy battleships and the speed to serve as a cruiser. Nevertheless, she was expected to fulfill more than one tactical function. [15] In addition, because of the potential of a warship sustaining blast damage to herself from cross-deck and end-on fire, Maine ' s main-gun arrangement was obsolete by the time she entered service. [11]

General characteristics Edit

Maine was 324 feet 4 inches (98.9 m) long overall, with a beam of 57 feet (17.4 m), a maximum draft of 22 feet 6 inches (6.9 m) and a displacement of 6,682 long tons (6,789.2 t). [16] She was divided into 214 watertight compartments. [17] A centerline longitudinal watertight bulkhead separated the engines and a double bottom covered the hull only from the foremast to the aft end of the armored citadel, a distance of 196 feet (59.7 m). She had a metacentric height of 3.45 feet (1.1 m) as designed and was fitted with a ram bow. [18]

Maine ' s hull was long and narrow, more like a cruiser than that of Texas, which was wide-beamed. Normally, this would have made Maine the faster ship of the two. Maine ' s weight distribution was ill-balanced, which slowed her considerably. Her main turrets, awkwardly situated on a cut-away gundeck, were nearly awash in bad weather. Because they were mounted toward the ends of the ship, away from its center of gravity, Maine was also prone to greater motion in heavy seas. While she and Texas were both considered seaworthy, the latter's high hull and guns mounted on her main deck made her the drier ship. [19]

The two main gun turrets were sponsoned out over the sides of the ship and echeloned to allow both to fire fore and aft. The practice of en echelon mounting had begun with Italian battleships designed in the 1870s by Benedetto Brin and followed by the British Navy with HMS Inflexible, which was laid down in 1874 but not commissioned until October 1881. [20] This gun arrangement met the design demand for heavy end-on fire in a ship-to-ship encounter, tactics which involved ramming the enemy vessel. [11] The wisdom of this tactic was purely theoretical at the time it was implemented. A drawback of an en echelon layout limited the ability for a ship to fire broadside, a key factor when employed in a line of battle. To allow for at least partial broadside fire, Maine ' s superstructure was separated into three structures. This technically allowed both turrets to fire across the ship's deck (cross-deck fire), between the sections. This ability was limited as the superstructure restricted each turret's arc of fire. [8]

This plan and profile view show Maine with eight six-pounder guns (one is not seen on the port part of the bridge but that is due to the bridge being cut away in the drawing). Another early published plan shows the same. In both cases the photographs show a single extreme bow mounted six-pounder. Careful examination of Maine photographs confirms that she did not carry that gun. Maine ' s armament set up in the bow was not identical to the stern which had a single six-pounder mounted at extreme aft of the vessel. Maine carried two six-pounders forward, two on the bridge and three on the stern section, all one level above the abbreviated gun deck that permitted the ten-inch guns to fire across the deck. The six-pounders located in the bow were positioned more forward than the pair mounted aft which necessitated the far aft single six-pounder.

Propulsion Edit

Maine was the first U.S. capital ship to have its power plant given as high a priority as its fighting strength. [21] Her machinery, built by the N. F. Palmer Jr. & Company's Quintard Iron Works of New York, [22] was the first designed for a major ship under the direct supervision of Arctic explorer and soon-to-be commodore, George Wallace Melville. [23] She had two inverted vertical triple-expansion steam engines, mounted in watertight compartments and separated by a fore-to-aft bulkhead, with a total designed output of 9,293 indicated horsepower (6,930 kW). Cylinder diameters were 35.5 inches (900 mm) (high-pressure), 57 inches (1,400 mm) (intermediate-pressure) and 88 inches (2,200 mm) (low-pressure). Stroke for all three pistons was 36 inches (910 mm). [17]

Melville mounted Maine ' s engines with the cylinders in vertical mode, a departure from conventional practice. Previous ships had had their engines mounted in horizontal mode, so that they would be completely protected below the waterline. Melville believed a ship's engines needed ample room to operate and that any exposed parts could be protected by an armored deck. He therefore opted for the greater efficiency, lower maintenance costs and higher speeds offered by the vertical mode. [24] [25] Also, the engines were constructed with the high-pressure cylinder aft and the low-pressure cylinder forward. This was done, according to the ship's chief engineer, A. W. Morley, so the low-pressure cylinder could be disconnected when the ship was under low power. This allowed the high and intermediate-power cylinders to be run together as a compound engine for economical running. [ clarification needed ]

Eight single-ended Scotch marine boilers provided steam to the engines at a working pressure of 135 pounds per square inch (930 kPa 9.5 kgf/cm 2 ) at a temperature 364 °F (184 °C). On trials, she reached a speed of 16.45 knots (30.47 km/h 18.93 mph), failing to meet her contract speed of 17 knots (31 km/h 20 mph). She carried a maximum load of 896 long tons (910,000 kg) of coal [26] in 20 bunkers, 10 on each side, which extended below the protective deck. Wing bunkers at each end of each fire room extended inboard to the front of the boilers. [17] This was a very low capacity for a ship of Maine ' s rating, which limited her time at sea and her ability to run at flank speed, when coal consumption increased dramatically. Maine ' s overhanging main turrets also prevented coaling at sea, except in the calmest of waters otherwise, the potential for damage to a collier, herself or both vessels was extremely great.

Maine also carried two small dynamos to power her searchlights and provide interior lighting. [27]

Maine was designed initially with a three-mast barque rig for auxiliary propulsion, in case of engine failure and to aid long-range cruising. [28] This arrangement was limited to "two-thirds" of full sail power, determined by the ship's tonnage and immersed cross-section. [29] The mizzen mast was removed in 1892, after the ship had been launched, but before her completion. [28] Maine was completed with a two-mast military rig and the ship never spread any canvas. [30]

Armament Edit

Main guns Edit

Maine ' s main armament consisted of four 10-inch (254 mm)/30 caliber Mark II guns, which had a maximum elevation of 15° and could depress to −3°. Ninety rounds per gun were carried. The ten-inch guns fired a 510-pound (231 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,000 feet per second (610 m/s) to a range of 20,000 yards (18,000 m) at maximum elevation. [31] These guns were mounted in twin hydraulically powered Mark 3 turrets, the fore turret sponsoned to starboard and the aft turret sponsoned to port. [32]

The 10" guns were initially to be mounted in open barbettes (the C & R proposal blueprint shows them as such). During Maine ' s extended construction, the development of rapid-fire intermediate-caliber guns, which could fire high-explosive shells, became a serious threat and the navy redesigned Maine with enclosed turrets. Because of the corresponding weight increase, the turrets were mounted one deck lower than planned originally. [30] [33] Even with this modification, the main guns were high enough to fire unobstructed for 180° on one side and 64° on the other side. [17] They could also be loaded at any angle of train initially the main guns of Texas, by comparison, with external rammers, could be loaded only when trained on the centerline or directly abeam, a common feature in battleships built before 1890. [11] By 1897, Texas ' turrets had been modified with internal rammers to permit much faster reloading.

The en echelon arrangement proved problematic. Because Maine ' s turrets were not counterbalanced, she heeled over if both were pointed in the same direction, which reduced the range of the guns. Also, cross-deck firing damaged her deck and superstructure significantly due to the vacuum from passing shells. [34] Because of this, and the potential for undue hull stress if the main guns were fired end-on, the en echelon arrangement was not used in U.S. Navy designs after Maine and Texas. [11] [34]

Secondary and light guns Edit

The six 6-inch (152 mm)/30 caliber Mark 3 guns were mounted in casemates in the hull, two each at the bow and stern and the last two amidships. [22] Data is lacking, but they could probably depress to −7° and elevate to +12°. They fired shells that weighed 105 pounds (48 kg) with a muzzle velocity of about 1,950 feet per second (590 m/s). They had a maximum range of 9,000 yards (8,200 m) at full elevation. [35]

The anti-torpedo boat armament consisted of seven 57-millimeter (2.2 in) Driggs-Schroeder six-pounder guns mounted on the superstructure deck. [22] They fired a shell weighing about 6 lb (2.7 kg) at a muzzle velocity of about 1,765 feet per second (538 m/s) at a rate of 20 rounds per minute to a maximum range of 8,700 yards (7,955 m). [36] The lighter armament comprised four each 37-millimeter (1.5 in) Hotchkiss and Driggs-Schroeder one-pounder guns. Four of these were mounted on the superstructure deck, two were mounted in small casemates at the extreme stern and one was mounted in each fighting top. [22] They fired a shell weighing about 1.1 pounds (0.50 kg) at a muzzle velocity of about 2,000 feet per second (610 m/s) at a rate of 30 rounds per minute to a range about 3,500 yards (3,200 m). [37]

Maine had four 18-inch (457 mm) above-water torpedo tubes, two on each broadside. In addition, she was designed to carry two 14.8 long tons (15.0 t) steam-powered torpedo boats, each with a single 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tube and a one-pounder gun. Only one was built, but it had a top speed of only a little over 12 knots (22 km/h 14 mph) so it was transferred to the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island, as a training craft. [b] [38]

Armor Edit

The main waterline belt, made of nickel steel, had a maximum thickness of 12 inches (305 mm) and tapered to 7 inches (178 mm) at its lower edge. It was 180 feet (54.9 m) long and covered the machinery spaces and the 10-inch magazines. It was 7 feet (2.1 m) high, of which 3 feet (0.9 m) was above the design waterline. It angled inwards for 17 feet (5.2 m) at each end, thinning to 8 inches (203 mm), to provide protection against raking fire. A 6-inch transverse bulkhead closed off the forward end of the armored citadel. The forward portion of the 2-inch-thick (51 mm) protective deck ran from the bulkhead all the way to the bow and served to stiffen the ram. The deck sloped downwards to the sides, but its thickness increased to 3 inches (76 mm). The rear portion of the protective deck sloped downwards towards the stern, going below the waterline, to protect the propeller shafts and steering gear. The sides of the circular turrets were 8 inches thick. The barbettes were 12 inches thick, with their lower portions reduced to 10 inches. The conning tower had 10-inch walls. The ship's voicepipes and electrical leads were protected by an armored tube 4.5 inches (114 mm) thick. [39]

Two flaws emerged in Maine ' s protection, both due to technological developments between her laying-down and her completion. The first was a lack of adequate topside armor to counter the effects of rapid-fire intermediate-caliber guns and high-explosive shells. This was a flaw she shared with Texas. [34] The second was the use of nickel-steel armor. Introduced in 1889, nickel steel was the first modern steel alloy armor and, with a figure of merit of 0.67, was an improvement over the 0.6 rating of mild steel used until then. Harvey steel and Krupp armors, both of which appeared in 1893, had merit figures of between 0.9 and 1.2, giving them roughly twice the tensile strength of nickel steel. Although all three armors shared the same density (about 40 pounds per square foot for a one-inch-thick plate), six inches of Krupp or Harvey steel gave the same protection as 10 inches of nickel. The weight thus saved could be applied either to additional hull structure and machinery or to achieving higher speed. The navy would incorporate Harvey armor in the Indiana-class battleships, designed after Maine, but commissioned at roughly the same time. [40] [41]

Maine was launched on 18 November 1889, sponsored by Alice Tracey Wilmerding, the granddaughter of Navy Secretary Benjamin F. Tracy. Not long afterwards, a reporter wrote for Marine Engineer and Naval Architect magazine, "it cannot be denied that the navy of the United States is making rapid strides towards taking a credible position among the navies of the world, and the launch of the new armoured battleship Maine from the Brooklyn Navy Yard . has added a most powerful unit to the United States fleet of turret ships." [42] In his 1890 annual report to congress, the Secretary of the Navy wrote, "the Maine . stands in a class by herself" and expected the ship to be commissioned by July 1892. [13]

A three-year delay ensued, while the shipyard waited for nickel steel plates for Maine ' s armor. Bethlehem Steel Company had promised the navy 300 tons per month by December 1889 and had ordered heavy castings and forging presses from the British firm of Armstrong Whitworth in 1886 to fulfil its contract. This equipment did not arrive until 1889, pushing back Bethlehem's timetable. In response, Navy Secretary Benjamin Tracy secured a second contractor, the newly expanded Homestead mill of Carnegie, Phipps & Company. In November 1890, Tracy and Andrew Carnegie signed a contract for Homestead to supply 6000 tons of nickel steel. [43] Homestead was, what author Paul Krause calls, "the last union stronghold in the steel mills of the Pittsburgh district." The mill had already weathered one strike in 1882 and a lockout in 1889 in an effort to break the union there. Less than two years later, came the Homestead Strike of 1892, one of the largest, most serious disputes in U.S. labor history. [44]

A photo of the christening shows Mrs. Wilmerding striking the bow near the plimsoll line depth of 13 which lead to many comments (much later of course) that the ship was "unlucky" from the launching.

Maine was commissioned on 17 September 1895, under the command of Captain Arent S. Crowninshield. [45] On 5 November 1895, Maine steamed to Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey. She anchored there two days, then proceeded to Newport, Rhode Island, for fitting out and test firing of her torpedoes. After a trip, later that month, to Portland, Maine, she reported to the North Atlantic Squadron for operations, training manoeuvres and fleet exercises. Maine spent her active career with the North Atlantic Squadron, operating from Norfolk, Virginia along the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean. On 10 April 1897, Captain Charles Dwight Sigsbee relieved Captain Crowninshield as commander of Maine. [46]

In January 1898, Maine was sent from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban War of Independence. Three weeks later, at 21:40, on 15 February, an explosion on board Maine occurred in the Havana Harbor ( 23°08′07″N 082°20′3″W  /  23.13528°N 82.33417°W  / 23.13528 -82.33417  ( USS Maine ) ). [48] Later investigations revealed that more than 5 long tons (5.1 t) of powder charges for the vessel's six- and ten-inch guns had detonated, obliterating the forward third of the ship. [49] The remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor.

Most of Maine ' s crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters, in the forward part of the ship, when the explosion occurred. The 1898 US Navy Surgeon General Reported that the ship's crew consisted of 355: 26 officers, 290 enlisted sailors, and 39 marines. Of these, there were 261 fatalities:

  • Two officers and 251 enlisted sailors and marines either killed by the explosion or drowned
  • Seven others were rescued but soon died of their injuries
  • One officer later died of "cerebral affection" (shock)
  • Of the 94 survivors, 16 were uninjured. [50] In total, 260 [51] men lost their lives as a result of the explosion or shortly thereafter, and six more died later from injuries. [51] Captain Sigsbee and most of the officers survived, because their quarters were in the aft portion of the ship. Altogether there were 89 survivors, 18 of whom were officers. [52] The City of Washington, an American merchant steamship, aided in rescuing the crew.

The cause of the accident was immediately debated. Waking up President McKinley to break the news, Commander Francis W. Dickins referred to it as an "accident." [53] Commodore George Dewey, Commander of the Asiatic Squadron, "feared at first that she had been destroyed by the Spanish, which of course meant war, and I was getting ready for it when a later dispatch said it was an accident." [54] Navy Captain Philip R. Alger, an expert on ordnance and explosives, posted a bulletin at the Navy Department the next day saying that the explosion had been caused by a spontaneous fire in the coal bunkers. [55] [56] Assistant Navy Secretary Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter protesting this statement, which he viewed as premature. Roosevelt argued that Alger should not have commented on an ongoing investigation, saying, "Mr. Alger cannot possibly know anything about the accident. All the best men in the Department agree that, whether probable or not, it certainly is possible that the ship was blown up by a mine." [56]

Yellow journalism Edit

The New York Journal and New York World, owned respectively by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, gave Maine intense press coverage, employing tactics that would later be labeled "yellow journalism." Both papers exaggerated and distorted any information they could obtain, sometimes even fabricating news when none that fitted their agenda was available. For a week following the sinking, the Journal devoted a daily average of eight and a half pages of news, editorials and pictures to the event. Its editors sent a full team of reporters and artists to Havana, including Frederic Remington, [57] and Hearst announced a reward of $50,000 "for the conviction of the criminals who sent 258 American sailors to their deaths." [58]

The World, while overall not as lurid or shrill in tone as the Journal, nevertheless indulged in similar theatrics, insisting continually that Maine had been bombed or mined. Privately, Pulitzer believed that "nobody outside a lunatic asylum" really believed that Spain sanctioned Maine ' s destruction. Nevertheless, this did not stop the World from insisting that the only "atonement" Spain could offer the U.S. for the loss of ship and life, was the granting of complete Cuban independence. Nor did it stop the paper from accusing Spain of "treachery, willingness, or laxness" for failing to ensure the safety of Havana Harbor. [59] The American public, already agitated over reported Spanish atrocities in Cuba, was driven to increased hysteria. [60]

William Randolph Hearst's reporting on Maine whipped up support for military action against the Spanish in Cuba regardless of their actual involvement in the sinking. He frequently cited various naval officers saying that the explosion could not have been an on-board accident. He quoted an "officer high in authority" as saying "The idea that the catastrophe resulted from an internal accident is preposterous. In the first place, such a thing has never occurred before that I have ever heard of either in the British navy or ours." [61] Hearst's sources never had to be specifically named because he just needed them to support the narrative that the explosion was caused by an attack by the Spanish. [ clarification needed ] [ citation needed ]

Spanish–American War Edit

Maine ' s destruction did not result in an immediate declaration of war with Spain, but the event created an atmosphere that precluded a peaceful solution. [62] The Spanish investigation found that the explosion had been caused by spontaneous combustion of the coal bunkers, but the Sampson Board ruled that the explosion had been caused by an external explosion from a torpedo.

The episode focused national attention on the crisis in Cuba. The McKinley administration did not cite the explosion as a casus belli, but others were already inclined to go to war with Spain over perceived atrocities and loss of control in Cuba. [63] [64] Advocates of war used the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!" [65] [66] [67] [68] The Spanish–American War began on April 21, 1898, two months after the sinking.

In addition to the inquiry commissioned by the Spanish government to naval officers Del Peral and De Salas, two Naval Courts of Inquiry were ordered: The Sampson Board in 1898 and the Vreeland board in 1911. In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover commissioned a private investigation into the explosion, and the National Geographic Society did an investigation in 1999, using computer simulations. All investigations agreed that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the destruction of the ship, but different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded. [64] [69]

1898 Del Peral and De Salas inquiry Edit

The Spanish inquiry, conducted by Del Peral and De Salas, collected evidence from officers of naval artillery, who had examined the remains of the Maine. Del Peral and De Salas identified the spontaneous combustion of the coal bunker, located adjacent to the munition stores in Maine, as the likely cause of the explosion. The possibility that other combustibles, such as paint or drier [ clarification needed ] products, had caused the explosion was not discounted. Additional observations included that:

  • Had a mine been the cause of the explosion, a column of water would have been observed.
  • The wind and the waters were calm on that date and hence a mine could not have been detonated by contact, but only by using electricity, but no cables had been found.
  • No dead fish were found in the harbor, as would be expected following an explosion in the water.
  • Munition stores do not usually explode when a ship is sunk by a mine.

The conclusions of the report were not reported at that time by the American press. [70]

1898 Sampson Board's Court of Inquiry Edit

In order to find the cause of the explosion, a naval inquiry was ordered by the United States shortly after the incident, headed by Captain William T. Sampson. Ramón Blanco y Erenas, Spanish governor of Cuba, had proposed instead a joint Spanish-American investigation of the sinking. [71] Captain Sigsbee had written that "many Spanish officers, including representatives of General Blanco, now with us to express sympathy." [72] In a cable, the Spanish minister of colonies, Segismundo Moret, had advised Blanco "to gather every fact you can, to prove the Maine catastrophe cannot be attributed to us." [73]

According to Dana Wegner, who worked with U.S. Admiral Hyman G. Rickover on his 1974 investigation of the sinking, the Secretary of the Navy had the option of selecting a board of inquiry personally. Instead, he fell back on protocol and assigned the commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic Squadron to do so. The commander produced a list of junior line officers for the board. The fact that the officer proposed to be court president was junior to the captain of Maine, Wegner writes, "would indicate either ignorance of navy regulations or that, in the beginning, the board did not intend to examine the possibility that the ship was lost by accident and the negligence of her captain." [ This quote needs a citation ] Eventually, navy regulations prevailed in leadership of the board, Captain Sampson being senior to Captain Sigsbee. [74]

The board arrived on 21 February and took testimony from survivors, witnesses, and divers (who were sent down to investigate the wreck). The Sampson Board produced its findings in two parts: the proceedings, which consisted mainly of testimonies, and the findings, which were the facts, as determined by the court. Between the proceedings and the findings, there was what Wegner calls, "a broad gap", where the court "left no record of the reasoning that carried it from the often-inconsistent witnesses to [its] conclusion." Another inconsistency, according to Wegner, was that of only one technical witness, Commander George Converse, from the Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island. Captain Sampson read Commander Converse a hypothetical situation of a coal bunker fire igniting the reserve six-inch ammunition, with a resulting explosion sinking the ship. He then asked Commander Converse about the feasibility of such a scenario. Commander Converse "simply stated, without elaboration, that he could not realize such an event happening". [75]

The board concluded that Maine had been blown up by a mine, which, in turn, caused the explosion of her forward magazines. They reached this conclusion based on the fact that the majority of witnesses stated that they had heard two explosions and that part of the keel was bent inwards. [64] The official report from the board, which was presented to the Navy Department in Washington on 21 March, specifically stated the following:

"At frame 18 the vertical keel is broken in two and the flat keel is bent at an angle similar to the angle formed by the outside bottom plating. . In the opinion of the court, this effect could have been produced only by the explosion of a mine situated under the bottom of the ship at about frame 18, and somewhat on the port side of the ship." (part of the court's 5th finding)

"In the opinion of the court, the Maine was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her forward magazines." (the court's 7th finding) and

"The court has been unable to obtain evidence fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the Maine upon any person or persons." (the court's 8th finding). [76]

1911 Vreeland Board's Court of Inquiry Edit

In 1910, the decision was made to have a second Court of Inquiry. Besides the desire for a more thorough investigation, this would also facilitate the recovery of the bodies of the victims, so they could be buried in the United States. The fact that the Cuban government wanted the wreck removed from Havana harbor might also have played a role: it at least offered the opportunity to examine the wreck in greater detail than had been possible in 1898, while simultaneously obliging the now-independent Cubans. Wegner suggests that the fact that this inquiry could be held without the threat of war, which had been the case in 1898, lent it the potential for greater objectivity than had been possible previously. Moreover, since several of the members of the 1910 board would be certified engineers, they would be better qualified to evaluate their findings than the line officers of the 1898 board had been. [77]

Beginning in December 1910, a cofferdam was built around the wreck and water was pumped out, exposing the wreck by late 1911. Between 20 November and 2 December 1911, a court of inquiry headed by Rear Admiral Charles E. Vreeland inspected the wreck. They concluded that an external explosion had triggered the explosion of the magazines. This explosion was farther aft and lower powered than concluded by the Sampson Board. The Vreeland Board also found that the bending of frame 18 was caused by the explosion of the magazines, not by the external explosion. [64] After the investigation, the newly located dead were buried in Arlington National Cemetery and the hollow, intact portion of the hull of Maine was refloated and ceremoniously scuttled at sea on 16 March 1912. [78]

1974 Rickover investigation Edit

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover became intrigued with the disaster and began a private investigation in 1974, using information from the two official inquiries, newspapers, personal papers, and information on the construction and ammunition of Maine. He concluded that the explosion was not caused by a mine, and speculated that spontaneous combustion was the most likely cause, from coal in the bunker next to the magazine. He published a book about this investigation in 1976 entitled How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. [79]

In the 2001 book Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Navy and the Spanish–American War, Wegner revisits the Rickover investigation and offers additional details. According to Wegner, Rickover interviewed naval historians at the Energy Research and Development Agency after reading an article in the Washington Star-News by John M. Taylor. The author claimed that the U.S. Navy "made little use of its technically trained officers during its investigation of the tragedy." The historians were working with Rickover on a study of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program, but they said that they knew no details of Maine ' s sinking. Rickover asked whether they could investigate the matter, and they agreed. Wegner says that all relevant documents were obtained and studied, including the ship's plans and weekly reports of the unwatering of Maine in 1912 (the progress of the cofferdam) written by William Furgueson, chief engineer for the project. These reports included numerous photos annotated by Furgueson with frame and strake numbers on corresponding parts of the wreckage. Two experts were brought in to analyze the naval demolitions and ship explosions. They concluded that the photos showed "no plausible evidence of penetration from the outside," and they believed that the explosion originated inside the ship. [80]

Wegner suggests that a combination of naval ship design and a change in the type of coal used to fuel naval ships might have facilitated the explosion postulated by the Rickover study. Up to the time of the Maine ' s building, he explains, common bulkheads separated coal bunkers from ammunition lockers, and American naval ships burned smokeless anthracite coal. With an increase in the number of steel ships, the Navy switched to bituminous coal, which burned at a hotter temperature than anthracite coal and allowed ships to steam faster. Wegner explains that anthracite coal is not subject to spontaneous combustion, but bituminous coal is considerably more volatile and is known for releasing the largest amounts of firedamp, a dangerous and explosive mixture of gases (chiefly methane). Firedamp is explosive at concentrations between 4% and 16%, with most violence at around 10%. In addition, there was another potential contributing factor in the bituminous coal: iron sulfide, also known as pyrite, was likely present. The presence of pyrites presents two additional risk factors, the first involving oxidation. Pyrite oxidation is sufficiently exothermic that underground coal mines in high-sulfur coal seams have occasionally experienced spontaneous combustion in the mined-out areas of the mine. This process can result from the disruption caused by mining from the seams, which exposes the sulfides in the ore to air and water. The second risk factor involves an additional capability of pyrites to provide fire ignition under certain conditions. Pyrites derive their name from the Greek root word pyr, meaning fire, as they can cause sparks when struck by steel or other hard surfaces. Pyrites were used to strike sparks to ignite gunpowder in wheellock guns, for example. The pyrites could have provided the ignition capability needed to create an explosion. A number of bunker fires of this type had been reported aboard warships before the Maine ' s explosion, in several cases nearly sinking the ships. Wegner also cites a 1997 heat transfer study which concluded that a coal bunker fire could have taken place and ignited the ship's ammunition. [81]

1998 National Geographic investigation Edit

In 1998, National Geographic magazine commissioned an analysis by Advanced Marine Enterprises (AME). This investigation, done to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of USS Maine, was based on computer modeling, a technique unavailable for previous investigations. The results reached were inconclusive. National Geographic reported that "a fire in the coal bunker could have generated sufficient heat to touch off an explosion in the adjacent magazine [but] on the other hand, computer analysis also shows that even a small, handmade mine could have penetrated the ship's hull and set off explosions within". [82] The AME investigation noted that "the size and location of the soil depression beneath the Maine 'is more readily explained by a mine explosion than by magazine explosions alone'". [69] The team noted that this was not "definitive in proving that a mine was the cause of the sinking" but it did "strengthen the case". [69]

Some experts, including Admiral Rickover's team and several analysts at AME, do not agree with the conclusion. [69] Wegner claims that technical opinion among the Geographic team was divided between its younger members, who focused on computer modeling results, and its older ones, who weighed their inspection of photos of the wreck with their own experience. He adds that AME used flawed data concerning the Maine ' s design and ammunition storage. Wegner was also critical of the fact that participants in the Rickover study were not consulted until AME's analysis was essentially complete, far too late to confirm the veracity of data being used or engage in any other meaningful cooperation. [83]

2002 Discovery Channel Unsolved History investigation Edit

In 2002, the Discovery Channel produced an episode of the Unsolved History documentaries, entitled "Death of the U.S.S. Maine". It used photographic evidence, naval experts, and archival information to argue that the cause of the explosion was a coal bunker fire, and it identified a weakness or gap in the bulkhead separating the coal and powder bunkers that allowed the fire to spread from the former to the latter. [84]

False flag operation conspiracy theories Edit

Several claims have been made in Spanish-speaking media that the sinking was a false flag operation conducted by the U.S. [85] [86] and those claims are the official view in Cuba. [87] The Maine monument in Havana describes Maine ' s sailors as "victims sacrificed to the imperialist greed in its fervor to seize control of Cuba", [88] which claims that U.S. agents deliberately blew up their own ship. [89]

Eliades Acosta was the head of the Cuban Communist Party's Committee on Culture and a former director of the José Martí National Library in Havana. He offered the standard Cuban interpretation in an interview to The New York Times, but he adds that "Americans died for the freedom of Cuba, and that should be recognized." [87] This claim has also been made in Russia by Mikhail Khazin, a Russian economist who once ran the cultural section at Komsomolskaya Pravda, [90] and in Spain by Eric Frattini, a Spanish Peruvian journalist in his book Manipulando la historia. Operaciones de Falsa Bandera. Del Maine al Golpe de estado de Turquía. [91]

Operation Northwoods was a series of proposals prepared by Pentagon officials for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, setting out a number of proposed false flag operations that could be blamed on the Cuban Communists in order to rally support against them. [92] [93] One of these suggested that a U.S. Navy ship be blown up in Guantanamo Bay deliberately. In an echo of the yellow press headlines of the earlier period, it used the phrase "A 'Remember the Maine' incident". [93] [94]

For several years, the Maine was left where she sank in Havana harbor, but it was evident she would have to be removed sometime. It took up valuable space in the harbor, and the buildup of silt around her hull threatened to create a shoal. In addition, various patriotic groups wanted mementos of the ship. On 9 May 1910, Congress authorized funds for the removal of the Maine, the proper interment in Arlington National Cemetery of the estimated 70 bodies still inside, and the removal and transport of the main mast [ clarification needed ] to Arlington. Congress did not demand a new investigation into the sinking at that time. [95]

The Army Corps of Engineers built a cofferdam around the Maine and pumped water out from inside it. [5] By 30 June 1911, the Maine ' s main deck was exposed. The ship forward of frame 41 was entirely destroyed a twisted mass of steel out of line with the rest of the hull, all that was left of the bow, bore no resemblance to a ship. The rest of the wreck was badly corroded. Army engineers dismantled the damaged superstructure and decks, which were then dumped at sea. About halfway between bow and stern, they built a concrete and wooden bulkhead to seal the after-section, then cut away what was left of the forward portion. Holes were cut in the bottom of the after-section, through which jets of water were pumped, to break the mud seal holding the ship, then plugged, with flood cocks, which would later be used for sinking the ship. [96]

The Maine had been outfitted with Worthington steam pumps. After lying on the bottom of Havana harbor for fourteen years these pumps were found to be still operational, and were subsequently used to raise the ship. [97] [ page needed ]

On 13 February 1912, the engineers let water back into the interior of the cofferdam. Three days later, the interior of the cofferdam was full and Maine floated. Two days after that, the Maine was towed out by the tug Osceola. The bodies of its crew were then removed to the armored cruiser North Carolina for repatriation. During the salvage, the remains of 66 men were found, of whom only one, Harry J. Keys (an engineering officer), was identified and returned to his home town the rest were reburied at Arlington National Cemetery, making a total of 229 Maine crew buried there. [98] On 16 March, the Maine was towed four miles from the Cuban coast by Osceola, escorted by North Carolina and the light cruiser Birmingham. She was loaded with dynamite as a possible aid to her sinking. [99] Flowers adorned Maine's deck, and an American flag was strung from her jury mast. [99] At 5pm local time, with a crowd of over 100,000 persons watching from the shore, her sea cocks were opened, and just over twenty minutes later, Maine sank, bow first, in 600 fathoms (3,600 ft 1,100 m) of water, to the sound of taps and the twenty-one gun salutes of Birmingham and North Carolina. [100] [101]

In 2000, the wreck of Maine was rediscovered by Advanced Digital Communications, a Toronto-based expedition company, in about 3,770 feet (1,150 m) of water roughly 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Havana Harbor. The company had been working with Cuban scientists and oceanographers from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, on testing underwater exploration technology. The ship had been discovered east of where it was believed it had been scuttled according to the researchers, during the sinking ceremony and the time it took the wreck to founder, currents pushed Maine east until it came to rest at its present location. Before the team identified the site as Maine, they referred to the location as the "square" due to its unique shape, and at first they did not believe it was the ship, due to its unexpected location. The site was explored with an ROV. According to Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, the hull was not oxidized and the crew could "see all of its structural parts". [102] The expedition was able to identify the ship due to the doors and hatches on the wreck, as well as the anchor chain, the shape of the propellers, and the holes where the bow was cut off. Due to the 1912 raising of the ship, the wreck was completely missing its bow this tell-tale feature was instrumental in identifying the ship. The team also located a boiler nearby, and a debris field of coal. [102]


MAINE BB 10

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Maine Class Battleship
    Keel Laid February 15 1899 - Launched July 27 1901

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

Postmarks

This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
 
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


Background

The delivery of the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo in 1883 and the acquisition of other modern armored warships from Europe by Brazil, Argentina and Chile shortly afterwards, alarmed the United States government, as the Brazilian Navywas now the most powerful in the Americas. [5] The chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, Hilary A. Herbert, stated to congress: “if all this old navy of ours were drawn up in battle array in mid-ocean and confronted by Riachueloit is doubtful whether a single vessel bearing the American flag would get into port.” [6] These developments helped bring to a head a series of discussions that had been taking place at the Naval Advisory Board since 1881. The board knew at that time that the U.S. Navy could not challenge any major European fleet at best, it could wear down an opponent’s merchant fleet and hope to make some progress through general attrition there. Moreover, projecting naval force abroad through the use of battleships ran counter to the government policy of isolationism. While some on the board supported a strict policy of commerce raiding, others argued it would be ineffective against the potential threat of enemy battleships stationed near the American coast. The two sides remained essentially deadlocked until Riachuelo manifested. [7]

The board, now confronted with the concrete possibility of hostile warships operating off the American coast, began planning for ships to protect it in 1884. The ships had to fit within existing docks and had to have a shallow draft to enable them to use all the major American ports and bases. Its maximum beam was similarly fixed and the board concluded that at a length of about 300 feet (91 m), the maximum displacement was thus about 7,000 tons. A year later the Bureau of Construction and Repair (C & R) presented two designs to Secretary of the Navy William Collins Whitney, one for a 7,500-ton battleship and one for a 5,000-ton armored cruiser. Whitney decided instead to ask congress for two 6,000-ton warships and they were authorized in August 1886. A design contest was held, asking naval architects to submit designs for the two ships: armored cruiser Maine and battleship Texas. It was specified that Maine had to have a speed of 17 knots(31 km/h 20 mph), a ram bow, double bottom, and be able to carry two torpedo boats. Her armament was specified as: four 10-inch (254 mm) guns, six 6-inch (152 mm) guns, various light weapons, and four torpedo tubes. It was specifically stated that the main guns “must afford heavy bow and stern fire.” [8] Armor thickness and many details were also defined. Specifications for Texaswere similar, but demanded a main battery of two 12-inch (305 mm) guns and slightly thicker armor. [9]

The winning design for Maine was from Theodore D. Wilson, who served as chief constructor for C & R and was a member on the Naval Advisory Board in 1881. He had designed a number of other warships for the navy. [10] The winning design for Texas was from a British designer, William John, who was working for the Barrow Shipbuilding Company at that time. Both designs resembled the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo, having the main gun turrets sponsoned out over the sides of the ship and echeloned. [11] The winning design for Maine, though conservative and inferior to other contenders, may have received special consideration due to a requirement that one of the two new ships be American–designed. [12]


44c. "Remember the Maine!"

There was more than one way to acquire more land. If the globe had already been claimed by imperial powers, the United States could always seize lands held by others. Americans were feeling proud of their growing industrial and military prowess. The long-dormant Monroe Doctrine could finally be enforced. Good sense suggested that when treading on the toes of empires, America should start small. In 1898, Spain was weak and Americans knew it. Soon the opportunity to strike arose.

Involvement in Cuba

Cuba became the nexus of Spanish-American tensions. Since 1895, Cubans had been in open revolt against Spanish rule. The following year, Spain sent General Valeriano Weyler to Cuba to sedate the rebels. Anyone suspected of supporting independence was removed from the general population and sent to concentration camps. Although few were summarily executed, conditions at the camps led over 200,000 to die of disease and malnutrition. The news reached the American mainland through the newspapers of the yellow journalists. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were the two most prominent publishers who were willing to use sensational headlines to sell papers. Hearst even sent the renowned painter Frederick Remington to Cuba to depict Spanish misdeeds. The American public was appalled.

The Maine Sinks

In February 1898, relations between the United States and Spain deteriorated further. Dupuy de Lôme , the Spanish minister to the United States had written a stinging letter about President McKinley to a personal friend. The letter was stolen and soon found itself on the desk of Hearst, who promptly published it on February 9. After public outcry, de Lôme was recalled to Spain and the Spanish government apologized. The peace was short-lived, however. On the evening of February 15, a sudden and shocking explosion tore a hole in the hull of the American battleship Maine , which had been on patrol in Havana harbor . The immediate assumption was that the sinking of the Maine and the concomitant deaths of 260 sailors was the result of Spanish treachery. Although no conclusive results have ever been proven, many Americans had already made up their minds, demanding an immediate declaration of war.

McKinley proceeded with prudence at first. When the Spanish government agreed to an armistice in Cuba and an end to concentration camps, it seemed as though a compromise was in reach. But the American public, agitated by the yellow press and American imperialists, demanded firm action. " Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain !" was the cry. On April 11, 1898, McKinley asked the Congress for permission to use force in Cuba. To send a message to the rest of the world that the United States was interested in Cuban independence instead of American colonization, Congress passed the Teller Amendment , which promised that America would not annex the precious islands. After that conscience-clearing measure, American leaders threw caution to the wind and declared open warfare on the Spanish throne.


USS Maine (ACR-1)

Shortly after the close of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the United States government ordered construction of a new armed steamer on August 3rd, 1888 to coincide with rising naval aspirations in Latin and South America. The vessel was originally named "Armored Cruiser #1" ("ACR-1") but renamed as the USS Maine and classified as a "Second-class Battleship". Her keel was laid down by New York Naval Shipyard of Brooklyn, New York on October 17th, 1888. She was formally launched on November 18th, 1890 and commissioned on September 17th, 1895. At the time of her commissioning, she became just the second battleship of the United States Navy (USN) and the first vessel to carry the name of "Maine".

Owing much of her design to developments perfected in Europe, the USS Maine came about at a period when steam engine technology had advanced to such a point that there proved less reliance on sail power. As such, sail-fitting masts were excluded from her design, replaced instead by a pair of observation masts - one fitted fore and other aft of amidships. At center, there was the superstructure and twin smoke funnels dominating her profile. Armament included a mix of guns led by 2 x 10" (254mm) guns in a fore and aft twin-gun turret. This was supplemented by 6 x 6" (152mm) guns in single-gun turrets about her design. 7 x Driggs-Schroeder 6-pounder (57mm/2.2") guns were also installed as were 4 x Hotchkiss 1-pounder (37mm/1.5") guns. For close-in work, 4 x Gatling guns were used. The vessel was also given torpedo-launching facilities through 4 x 18" (457mm) launchers mounted above the water line. Armor protection (of nickel steel) for this fighting ship included 12 inches at the belt, up to 3 inches at the top deck, 8 inches at the main turrets and 10 inches at the superstructure. Power was served through 8 x Scotch coal-fed boilers driving 2 x vertical triple expansion steam engines with 2 x shafts. Maximum speed in ideal conditions was 16 knots with a range of approximately 6,670 kilometers. The vessel was crewed by 374 personnel.

One interesting design arrangement of the USS Maine was her main gun armament concentrated across two round turrets, these offset from centerline to allow for both guns to fire ahead, to the rear and to either side as needed - allowing all four main guns to be conceivably brought to bear on the target (there did prove a balance issue with the Maine concerning her turret configuration however). The forward turret was offset to the starboard side while the aft turret was offset to port. Each turret relied on hydraulic power for their traversal and elevation. In the original line work, the 10" main guns were to be seated in open-air barbettes though this was updated to enclosed turrets during construction.

USS Maine began her ocean-going career in November of 1895 and ended at Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey. From there, she moved on to Newport, Rhode Island and then to Portland, Maine, joining the North Atlantic Squadron on exercise. She based largely out of Norfolk, Virginia and spent much of her years along the American East Coast and in Caribbean waters. When issues in Cuba with the local populace began to mount and threaten Americans and American interest on the island (at this time governed by Spain), the USS Maine was sent to berth at Havana Harbor. The ship was given a guarded approval by the Spanish government.

Tensions between Cubans and Spain had been rising for decades as the island people sought their independence. A campaign spread to the United States to garner support for such a move and a 1868-1878 initiative was put down by the Spanish. This resulted in a second attempt that saw tens of thousands of Cubans killed in response.

Tensions between the Spanish and the Americans were no better for, in October of 1873, the Spanish captured the USS Virginius, a side-wheel steamer originating as a Confederate vessel during the American Civil War (captured by the North in April of 1865). The Virginius was actively in support of Cuban independence and promptly targeted by Spanish authorities as a result. The vessel was eventually hunted down and captured to which 53 of its crew (both British and American in nationality) executed. This event nearly brought the US (and Britain) to war with Spain. The incident did serve to showcase to the Americans the deficiency in their ironclad strength when compared to the Spanish and this sparked a new US naval program for five such vessels to be constructed.

The story of the USS Maine would take a disastrous turn one February evening. At 9:40PM, on February 15th, 1898, the vessel was rocked by a massive explosion as five tons of her powder charge (located at the forward magazine) ignited while most of the USS Maine crew was asleep. The frontal section of the Maine was completely blown off and 260 personnel were killed where they lay or stood while others soon followed through their received injuries. Many were enlisted personnel for officers generally stationed at the rear of the ship. The complete loss of the vessel's forecastle then forced the open hulk to take on water and begin sinking in the harbor. Nearby Spanish elements sprung into action to provide assistance to the wounded and help to control fires.

After a four week investigation, a US naval committee agreed that the likely culprit for the explosion was a naval mine of unknown origin. It was believed that the mine rolled up against the hull of the Maine and detonated, in turn detonating her forward magazine, causing the deadly explosion. Once news of the results reached the American people, calls for reprisal began to spring up, urged by press outlets playing upon the anger of the public. Forced to action, then-US President McKinley ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to which Spain returned with a formal declaration of war on the United States on April 25th, 1898, thusly beginning the Spanish-American War (April 25, 1898 - August 12th, 1898). The war would last a little over 3.5 months, result in tens of thousands dead and removed Spain as an official world power - the Spanish Empire and all its prestige now ceased to exist. In turn, the war signaled the United States a bonafide world power. The conflict was concluded with the Treaty of Paris signed in 1898 as Spain sued for peace, giving Cuban control to the US government. The sinking of the USS Maine proved a definitive catalyst to the US going to war against the European power.

During the span of 1911 and 1912, the United States Navy moved into Havana Harbor to attempt to raise the hulk of the USS Maine, both to remove it as an obstruction and to study its damage. An inquiry supported the naval mine theory from previous to which the Maine was then moved towed several miles north of Havana until sunk under the direction of the USN with full military honors afforded her dead.

Despite the formal findings, many experts agree that the cause of the explosion was in fact related to a spontaneous combustion of coal at the bunker located adjacent to the six-inch gun magazine. However, the sinking of the USS Maine still remains unresolved for students of naval history.

The USN honored its first Maine by laying down the keel to a second one year after her loss. This USS Maine became a part of the US "Great White Fleet" touring the world in a show of force.


Watch the video: USS Maine (August 2022).