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Spanish cruiser Almirante Cervera: Wikis

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Pruebas de mar cervera.jpg
Almirante Cervera first trials at sea
Career (Spain) España monarquica antes de 1931 Republica Española Bandera del bando nacional 1936-1938.svg España de franco Naval Jack of Spain.svg
Namesake: Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete
Laid down: 14 April 1923
Launched: 16 October 1925
Commissioned: 15 September 1928
Decommissioned: 31 August 1965
Nickname: Chulo del Cantábrico
Fate: Scrapped 1965
General characteristics
Class and type: Almirante Cervera class cruiser
Displacement: 7,475 long tons (7,595 t) standard
9,237 long tons (9,385 t) full load
Length: 579 ft (176 m)
Beam: 54 ft (16 m)
Draft: 16 ft 6 in (5.03 m)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, Parsons Type geared turbines, 8 Yarrow Type boilers, 80,000 hp
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement: 566
Armament: • 8 × 6-inch (152 mm) guns 3 twin turrets and two single mountings
• 4 × 4-inch (102 mm)guns
• 3 47mm guns
• 12 × 21-inch (533 mm)torpedoes in triple tubes above water
Armor: 3 - 2 inch belt, 1-2 inch deck, 6 inch conning tower

Almirante Cervera was a light cruiser of the Cervera class of the Spanish Navy. She was named after the Spanish admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, commander of the Spanish naval forces in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

Contents

Features

Her construction was authorized by the so-called Miranda law of 17 February 1915. The cruiser was launched in Ferrol in 1925 and scrapped in 1965. The ship was 172.62 meters in length, 16.61 m in beam, and a draft of 5.03 m. Equipped with a main armament of 6 guns of 152 mm (6 in) mounted in twin turrets and manned by a crew of 566 sailors, Almirante Cervera belonged to the same class of two other cruisers of the Spanish Navy of her time, the Galicia (Libertad from 1931 to 1939) and Miguel de Cervantes.[1]

Operational history

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Civil War

Starting in October 1934, Almirante Cervera participated in the bombardment of coastal targets during the insurrection in Asturias, but it was at the time of the civil war where she took a leading role in naval operations. In the first months 1936 she took part of a gunnery exercise with live ammunition along with the battleship Jaime I and her sister cruisers Libertad and Miguel de Cervantes in which they sank the ship target, the old unarmored cruiser Conde de Venadito.[2] In July 1936 Almirante Cervera was in dock at Ferrol, which prevented her from taking part in the first operations of the war. She fell into the hands of Franco's side when his troops seized the port. She was under the command of Captain Juan Sanchez-Sandalio Ferragut, who was captured by the rebels and executed by a firing squad.[3] Once in service, she was nicknamed El Chulo del Cantábrico, ("The Dandy of Biscay"), because her almost unopposed activity both supporting Franco's army offensives as well as intercepting Republican and international shipping.[4] She was sent to Gijon with orders of helping the rebel troops who were under siege there. The barracks were finally stormed by government forces.[5] Then she formed a task force with the battleship España and the destroyer Velasco. On August 9, while firing on government positions, she hit by mistake the British yacht Blue Shadow, whose master was killed. The Cervera apparently took the sailing vessel for a Government watercraft. The ship was abandoned by her crew, which was rescued by the British destroyer HMS Comet.[6][7] Then the cruiser sailed to support the blockade of the Straits of Gibraltar, where she participated in the Battle of Cape Espartel. While the cruiser Canarias sank the Republican destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz after a few salvoes, the Cervera engaged the destroyer Gravina. The Cervera fired her main artillery up to 300 times, but managed to hit the Gravina only twice. The poor marksmanship of the cruiser enabled the Gravina to break action and fleeing for safety to Casablanca. However, this action was decisive, as it opened the Straits to the insurgent's traffic.[8]

HMS Royal Oak, one of the British battleships that defended the international shipping in Biscay during the Spanish Civil War

After this operation in the Mediterranean, she spent the following months searching and occasionally seizing foreign blockade runners in Biscay. On April 4, 1937 she joined the armed trawler Galerna in the pursuit and subsequent sinking of the Panamanian-flagged merchant ship Andra. The British-chartered freighter was eventually captured and later sunk by the Galerna.[9][10] She then tried to stop the British merchant Thorpehall who, supported by three British destroyers, managed to slip away and get to Bilbao.[11] The same happened two months later when they arrested the British merchant Gordonia, which was eventually released by the British Fleet.[12] On July 14 she managed to capture the British cargo Molton off Santander, inside Spanish waters, despite the presence of the British battleship HMS Royal Oak.[13]

The Cervera seized the French steamer Trégastel and drove off the British Latymer outside the coast of Cantabria on the same period.[14]

During the remainder of 1937, she sank two Republican coast guard units along with a merchant ship. She also shot down a bomber aircraft that had tried to dive-bomb her three times. The cruiser played a central role in the capture of the 9,900 tn government transport Marqués de Comillas.[15]

Tupolev SB

On 17 February 1938 she departed from Palma de Mallorca along with the heavy cruisers Canarias and Baleares and took part in the shelling of Valencia. On 22 February she was attacked again by Republican aircraft: a first wave of biplanes Polikarpov R-Z Natacha of the Soviet Group 30 and then a second wave of Tupolev SB Katiuska. A 50 kg bomb ripped through the stern funnel and though the fuse failed to explode, 25 men where wounded and the machine room damaged. According to other reports, in addition to the 50 kg bomb, the Cervera was hit by another bomb that killed 17 of her crew. The battered cruiser was bound for Palma again.[16]

On 6 March she was escorting a convoy and participated in the Battle of Cape Palos, where the heavy cruiser Baleares was torpedoed and sunk by Republican destroyers. She worked in the rescue of survivors from this warship.[17]

This loss was somewhat counterbalanced by the commissioning of the refitted cruiser Navarra.[18] The Cervera continued her operations along the shrinking Republican coastline until the end of the war, but her role throughout the conflict was largely overshadowed by the heavier cruiser Canarias.[19]

Proposed modernization and last years

Shortly after the war, the Spanish minister of the Navy decided the modernization of the three cruisers belonging to the class, through the project nº 133. The lack of materials and financial support owing WWII eventually spare the Cervera from the proposed changes, which basically consisted in the introduction of a Heinkel He 114 seaplane, the redistribution of the guns in four twin-turrets and the mounting of a Decca Radar. Reduced to a part-time training ship, the cruiser was written off the navy in 1965.[20]

Notes

  1. ^ Crucero Almirante Cervera (Spanish)
  2. ^ Escobén magazine, February 8 2004 (Spanish)
  3. ^ Oliveira & Vázquez, page 81
  4. ^ Salaya, page 155
  5. ^ Hughes, page 371
  6. ^ New York Times, 10 August 1936
  7. ^ The Canberra Times, Tuesday 11 August 1936
  8. ^ Cortada, page 18
  9. ^ Heaton, page 35
  10. ^ Un barco Fantasma: El Andra (Spanish)
  11. ^ Cable, page 52
  12. ^ Cable, page 146
  13. ^ Heaton, page 56
  14. ^ Asturias Republicana
  15. ^ Steamboat Bill: Journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America, 1994. Page 14
  16. ^ Ares magazine (Spanish)
  17. ^ Combate de Cabo Palos (Spanish)
  18. ^ Gretton, page 430
  19. ^ Gretton, preface
  20. ^ Vida Marítima (Spanish)

References

  • Cable, James: The Royal Navy & the Siege of Bilbao. CUP Archive, 1979. ISBN 0521225167
  • Cortada, James: Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Greenwood Press, 1982. ISBN 0313220549
  • Gretton, Peter (1984), The Forgotten Factor: The Naval Aspects of the Spanish Civil War, Oxford University Press  
  • Heaton, Paul Michael: Welsh Blockade Runners in the Spanish Civil War. Starling Press, 1985. ISBN 0950771457
  • De Oliveira, Mauricio & Vázquez, José Andrés: La Tragedia española en el mar: Aportaciones para la historia de la acción de las escuadras nacionales y del frente popular, en la guerra de España. Establecimientos Cerón, 1937. (Spanish)
  • Salaya, Guillén: Los que nacimos con el siglo: Biografía de una juventud. Editorial Colenda, 1953. (Spanish)

External links


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