Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Spanish Navy on Staten Island

One nifty new bit of info I've learned reading Ivan Musicant's history of the Spanish-American War, Empire by Default, concerns my home town of Staten Island. 

When the USS Maine was sent to Cuba to both serve as a guardian for Americans in Havana during a period of increasing unrest in the streets to threaten the Spanish over their actions against the Cubans. 

Since it was sent in the guise of simply freindly cruise of a foreign port, the Spanish decided to send one of their own ships on a reciprocal visit to American cities. They chose the cruiser Vizcaya. 

The Vizcaya at sea, sometime between 1893 and 1898

Vizcaya in profile

She was just out of New York City when her captain, Don Antonio Eulate, was informed that the Maine had exploded and sunk in Havana. It was decided to that instead of docking in Manhattan, she would dock in Tompkinsville, Staten Island. Which is five minutes from my house. Sadly, while I found the NY Times article on the visit, there were no pictures.

Later, consular officials took the ferry to Staten Island and then a train to visit Eulate and his ship. On Feb. 24, 1898, she left for Cape Verde. She was rendered ineffective at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba after taking numerous hits from the USS Brooklyn and several other American warships.

Film of the Vizcaya in New York harbor, Feb. 1898


  1. That's a really cool lost little tidbit of history!

    1. Apparently, there was a USN station in Tompkinsville up thru at least the end of WWII

  2. Visited New York, later got wrecked by a ship named Brooklyn. Love it.