USS Maine (1889)

Maine enters Havana on 25 January, 1898. Three weeks later, she would be on the bottom. Original in the public domain.

Nation
Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1888
Launched
1889
Commissioned
1895
AD/BC
AD
History

Construction of the USS Maine was authorized in 1886, in response to the naval arms buildup in South America, and in particular the Brazilian battleship Riachuelo. Construction began in 1888, but delays in materials delivery and a fire that destroyed her original plans meant that Maine was not commissioned until 1895. By this time, her design was aging, and Maine spent most of the next two years training and exercising with the North Atlantic Squadron. In January, 1898, Maine was sent to Cuba to protect American citizens during the Cuban War of Independence. She arrived on 25 January, and anchored in the harbor at Havana. Three weeks later, Maine exploded on the night of 15 February, and quickly sank in the shallow harbor. 253 of her crew died immediately, with ten more succumbing to their injuries. While the press immediately blamed a Spanish mine, a fire in the magazine from deteriorating cordite seems the more likely cause. Maine's wreck was examined several times, and she was refloated in 1912. The wreck was then scuttled with honors four miles off Cuba.

Bonus Photos

Line drawing of Maine. Note the offset turrets, a popular but impractical trend of the time. Original in the US National Archives.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Maine is sometimes assigned the hull number ACR-1, though this was never used while she was in service. She is also sometimes classed as a second class battleship, a role which armored cruisers were frequently called upon to fill.