Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Isla de Luzon

Figure 1: Isla de Luzon photographed circa the later 1880s. This small cruiser was lost in the Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898, but was salvaged and entered US Navy service under her Spanish name. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: The battle of Manila, 1 May 1898. Contemporary halftone print after an artwork by W.G. Wood, originally reproduced by courtesy of F.A. Munsey. It depicts the Spanish ships at left (left to right): Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon and Reina Cristina. The Cavite batteries are in the center distance. At right are (left to right): USS Boston, USS Baltimore, USS Raleigh, USS Olympia and USS Concord. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898. Wreck of the Spanish cruiser Isla de Luzon, photographed sometime after the battle. This ship was later salvaged and became USS Isla de Luzon. Donation of Lt. C.J. Dutreaux, USNR(Ret), 1947. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: Isla de Luzon circa 1905, place unknown. Photograph from US Warships of World War One, by P.H. Silverstone. Courtesy Robert Hurst. Click on photograph for larger image.

Second in the Isla de Cuba class of warships, Isla de Luzon was a 1,020-ton cruiser built in 1887 for the Spanish Navy by the British shipbuilder W.G. Armstrong at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. The ship was approximately 195 feet long and 30 feet wide, had a top speed of 13 knots, and had a crew of 137 officers and men. As built, Isla de Luzon was armed with four 4-inch guns, four 6-pounders, and three torpedo tubes. This armament, though, was altered slightly in later years.

At the time of the Spanish-American War, Isla de Luzon was part of the Spanish Squadron based in the Philippines. She was sunk by American warships under Commodore George Dewey during the Battle of Manila Bay on 1 May 1898. After the war was over, the US Navy salvaged the ship and, after extensive repairs were made at Hong Kong, commissioned the vessel into the Navy on 31 January 1900. USS Isla de Luzon went on her shakedown cruise off Hong Kong and then was assigned to the Asiatic Station.

Isla de Luzon was based at Zamboanga in the Philippine Islands and was used as a gunboat during the Filipino insurrection that took place shortly after the end of the Spanish-American War. The ship supported both naval and land operations against the Filipino rebels on the island of Samar. As a unit in the US Navy’s “Southern Squadron,” Isla de Luzon assisted in the naval blockade of Samar, which contributed to the final American victory over the Filipino insurgents on that island.

Isla de Luzon was detached from the Asiatic Station on 15 August 1902. She left Cavite in the Philippines and headed east, eventually transiting the Suez Canal and entering the Mediterranean. After visiting several ports in the Mediterranean, Isla de Luzon crossed the Atlantic and arrived at Pensacola, Florida, on 16 March 1903. The gunboat was attached to the Pensacola Navy Yard until 6 December, when she was handed over to the Louisiana Naval Militia as a training ship. After a few years of service with the Louisiana Naval Militia, the ship was transferred to the Illinois Naval Militia on the Great Lakes.

When America entered World War I in April 1917, Isla de Luzon was based at Chicago and was serving as a training ship on the Great Lakes. The ship remained there until 30 September 1918, when she arrived at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island, for use as a training ship for gunners. But the old gunboat only participated in this mission from 13 November to 13 December 1918. After the war ended in November 1918, the American Navy rapidly reduced in size and Isla de Luzon was decommissioned on 15 February 1919. She then functioned briefly as a yard craft for the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport until her name was struck from the Navy List on 23 July 1919. USS Isla de Luzon was sold on 10 March 1920 to the Bahama & West Indies Trading Company of New York City and renamed S.S. Reviver. Her final fate is unknown.