Naval History and Heritage Command

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Barcelo I (Tug)

(Tug: d. 100; 1. 124'7"; b. 11'0"; dr. 6'11" (mean); a. 1 mg.)

A Spanish sea captain, Don Antonio Barcelo (1717-1797), who gained fame fighting Moorish pirates in the Mediterranean.


The first Barcelo a composite hulled, single screw steam launch built in 1886 at Le Havre, France, by the Normand firm as a torpedo boat for the Spanish Navy was captured by men from the gunboat Petrel (Gunboat No. 2) at the Cavite Navy Yard in the wake of the Battle of Manila Bay on 1 May 1898, and turned over to the Asiatic Squadron flagship Olympia (Cruiser No. 6) the next morning. Records indicate that she was not placed in commission, though, until almost three months later, on 13 August 1898. Her first commanding officer was Naval Cadet William R. White, of the Naval Academy Class of 1897.

That same morning 13 August 1898 the ships of the Asiatic Squadron stood toward Manila, to bombard forts and entrenchments at Malate, a southern suburb of the city. Providing covering bombardment for the advancing Army troops, these ships enabled them to take the city by the end of the afternoon. Barcelo, “stripped for a fight and bound to have it” with her meager armament of one machine gun, joined another ex Spanish prize, Callao, in standing in close to shore almost in the breakers to rake the Spanish trenches with withering fire. Naval Cadet White’s sterling performance in command of the little bantam weight craft prompted Rear Admiral George Dewey, commander of the Asiatic Squadron, to recommend him for promotion for Barcelo’s part in protecting the Army's flanks while she was under fire herself from close range.

The remainder of Barcelo’s career appears to have been, while somewhat more prosaic, nevertheless important. She served locally at Cavite, principally as a yard craft, for more than two decades. She was classified as a harbor tug, YT-105, on 17 July 1920 when the Navy first adopted its modern alphanumeric system of hull designations. Ordered sold on 8 June 1922, Barcelo was acquired by Rogaciano A. Cosio of Manila on 11 September 1923.

Robert J. Cressman

7 March 2006

Published: Tue Jun 23 07:38:25 EDT 2015