Did Spain Destroy the Maine?

A boat arrives in Havana Harbor on January 24, 1898 (Blohm). On February 15 at about 9:40 p.m., the same ship was demolished by not one, but two separate explosions (McSherry). She was called the USS Maine (Aron). Many people have their own opinions on what occurred that night many years ago (Aron). I also have a point of view on this topic and I would like to share it with you, but first I’m going to tell you what took place on that peculiar February night.

The USS Maine was positioned in Cuba to protect the Americans in Havana Harbor, during the Spanish-Cuban war (Blohm). The Maine was in Havana Harbor for nearly a month when disaster struck (“USS Maine”). Captain Charles Dwight Sigsbee was on shore while the ship was just floating on the water that night (Blohm). At about 9:40 p.m. Captain Sigsbee and several others reported hearing two loud bangs (McSherry). Captain Sigsbee had rushed outside and was stunned when he saw the bow of the USS Maine high above the water (Blohm).

Captain Charles Sigsbee was not the only person on shore that night. The famous nurse and founder of the Red Cross, Clara Barton had been invited onboard the USS Maine (Blohm). She rushed to the severely injured. She reportedly said “I am with the wounded” (Blohm). Some may say that it was just a coincidence that Ms. Barton was aboard the ship that night and others believe she was there for a reason. To save the harmed. I believe her attendance on the ship was merely good luck for the ones who were hurt in the explosion.

Now that you have heard the story of the USS Maine, I am sure you have developed your own perspective on what happened. Many others believe that the burst was caused by an underwater mine (Aron). I, however disagree. My speculation is that the explosion occurred inside the ship. I believe the Maine’s sinking was caused by ignition in one of the coal bunkers of the ship. If it were a mine that was set off then there would have only been one blast and not two (McSherry). There was also no evidence of any mines under the water (Blohm). If a mine were to be set off, then the ship would have a massive hole in the bottom of the ship causing it to sink without tipping. However, the ship’s bow was pointed upwards as it slowly sank to the deepest depths of the harbor (Aron). There was also no evidence of detonation of any submerged mines (Crampton).

The United States had two separate courts who suggested that a submerged mine was the cause of the explosion (Blohm). However, Hyman G. Rickover, a former United States Naval leader, suggested that the ships demolition was due to “spontaneous combustion fires in coal bunker A-16” (McSherry). Rickover was not the first to imply this theory. When the United States formed their courts, Spain had assembled their own and they had announced that the cause of the outburst was internal also (Blohm). Of course, the United States did not want to believe them (Blohm).


If one of your newest and best battleships had just been blown up and you had no clue who or what caused this disaster what would you do? Well, I can tell you what we did. We blamed it on Spain (Aron). We didn’t even listen to what their courts had to say (Blohm). The United States had no real proof that the Spaniards had placed a mine underwater. The easiest thing to do at the time was to blame Spain and we accepted that. We even coined the phrase “Remember the Maine to Hell with Spain” (Blohm). President William McKinley had no choice but to go to war with Spain (Blohm). America could not accept the fact that there could actually be nobody at fault for one of the strangest unsolved mysteries in the history of the United States (Aron).





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