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Spanish cruiser Don Juan de Austria

Spanish cruiser Don Juan de Austria

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Don Juan de Austria was a Velasco-class
Velasco class cruiser
The Velasco class of unprotected cruisers was a series of eight cruisers built during the 1880s for service with the Spanish Navy. They were named for famous Spaniards of the past.- Description :...

 unprotected cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

 of the Spanish Navy
Spanish Navy
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...

 that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...


Technical Characteristics

Don Juan de Austria was built at the naval shipyard at Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

. 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
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...


Operational history

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
Manila Bay
Manila Bay is a natural harbor which serves the Port of Manila , in the Philippines.The bay is considered to be one of the best natural harbors in Southeast Asia and one of the finest in the world...


At 1100 hours on 25 April 1898, Don Juan de Austria and five other ships of the squadron set out for Subic Bay
Subic Bay
Subic Bay is a bay forming part of Luzon Sea on the west coast of the island of Luzon in Zambales, Philippines, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila Bay. Its shores were formerly the site of a major United States Navy facility named U.S...

, 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
Cañacao Bay
Cañacao Bay is an inlet of Manila Bay at the end of the Cavite Peninsula, in Cavite Province, Luzon, the Philippines.The bay is a good anchorage and its northern part is the harbor of Cavite Naval Base.-References:...

 off Sangley Point, in the lee of the Cavite Peninsula
Cavite Peninsula
The Cavite Peninsula is a narrow point in northeastern Cavite Province, Luzon, the Philippines. Bacoor Bay lies between the peninsula and the mainland. The City of Cavite is located on the peninsula....

, about eight miles southeast of Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

. 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
Spanish cruiser Castilla
Castilla was an Aragon-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.-Technical characteristics:Castilla was built at Cadiz, Spain...

 to protect her wooden hull from hostile gunfire.

When the U.S. Navy's Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey
George Dewey
George Dewey was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War...

 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
Spanish cruiser Reina Cristina
Reina Cristina was an Alfonso XII-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy which fought in the Battle of Manila Bay.-Technical Characteristics:...

, 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
A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.-History:...

 USS Petrel
USS Petrel (PG-2)
|-External links:* at navsource.org...

 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.

External links