On 29 April 1898, Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete of the Spanish Navy steamed out of the Cape Verde Islands with a fleet of four armored cruisers and three destroyers. His destination: the West Indies, to defend Spain's empire there against the United States. Hampered by a number of deficiencies, the fleet struggled into the harbor at Santiago de Cuba. Already there was the the Reina Mercedes, an unarmored cruiser capable of propulsion under sail and steam. Built in Cartagena, in 1887, she became the station ship at Santiago in 1892. By 1898, she was in such a poor state of repair that her armament was largely removed for use as shore batteries.
'The Fastest Ship in the Navy'
The Reina Mercedes's life in the U.S. Navy tied "fast" to her berth in Annapolis.
By Jon Hoppe