I have always been fascinated by the story of the destruction of the USS Maine. Sent to Havana harbour ostensibly to protect American civilians, the Maine was destroyed by a mysterious explosion on the night of February 15, 1898. After three major investigations the cause of the initial exploration is still not known.
In 1911 the wreckage of the Maine was raised. A coffer dam was built around it, water pumped out and salvage started. The destroyed bow was cut off, wreckage removed and the ship floated.
While in Key West I ran into several monuments of the Maine. This was not unexpected as The Maine sailed from the naval station there to Havana.
Janine jokes that wherever we go I find weird pieces of the Maine. But here in Key West it was hard not to stumble over the memory of the ship.
In Mallory square I ran into one of the many salvaged parts from the Maine. Here is the sighting dome from the forward turret. And on a display model of the ship where that dome was located.
In the Custome House museum we discovered a number of artifacts. These included the naval jack, life rings, utensils from the officers mess. On a exhibit text it mentioned the ships crew retired that night after a butler played taps. Forty minutes later the ship was rocked by two explosions which killed most of the crew. Afterwards reading this I noticed in a case a bugle recovered from the wreckage.
Although some individuals questioned the mine theory it was not seriously explored until 1974 when Admiral Rickover (the father of the nuclear submarine fleet) had his staff reexamine the case. His staff felt a coal fire was more likely to have caused the magazine
|USS Maine being towed out to sea to be scuttled|
The pier the Maine sailed from is no longer in existence. So Janine suggested we walk to the town cemetery to visit the graves of the Sailors and Marines from the Maine and pay our respects.
Is there a part of the USS Maine in your town? Here is a handy dandy list of where you can items,