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Commander William T. Swinburne to Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Squadron


At sea,Lat.22 04 N.;Long.86 W.,

April 29,I898.        


     I have the honor to submit the following report of the circumstances connected with the capture of the Spanish steamer Miguel Jover,of Barcelona, bound from New Orleans to Barcelona,via Havana.

     About I0 p.m.,April 22,while awaiting orders from you at Key West I received a telegram from the Chief of Bureau of Navigation1 sent me by the Commandant of the Naval Station,Key West,2a copy of which is enclosed. In obedience thereto I left Key West at 2.45 a.m. April 23.

     Failing to find the Indiana off Sand Key I stood for the Yucatan Bank.3 At 3.45 p.m.,April 23,in approximately Lat.23 43N Long. 83 28 W. a steamer was reported on the starboard bow standing to the S’d.4 When near enough for our colors to be seen she refused to show her nationality. I fired a blank charge,whereupon she stopped and hoisted the Spanish colors. I boarded her and after examining her papers took possession of her and placed a prize crew on board under the command of Ensign Cleland Davis,U.S.N.,and ordered him to accompany me to Key West.

     As I could not at that time spare any of my engine room force to work the engines of the prize and as I had lost so much time, I deemed it advisable in view of the value of the prize to abandon the search for the steamer mentioned in the telegram and returned to my station. I enclose the report of Ensign Davis the Prize Master.4

     The Miguel Jover is a fine steamer built in England for passenger service in I897;new boilers were put in her six months ago. Her dimensions are as follows: length,II2.45 meters;beam,6.68 meters;registered tonnage 2500. She is loaded with cotton an and staves for Barcelona,the cargo being valued at about I30000 dols. She has large coal capacity and can steam thirteen knots on from thirty five to forty tons of coal per day. Her evaporatotors and distillers will make twenty four tons of steaming water and eight tons of drinking water per day.

     Regarding the death of Axel Johansson,seaman,by the accidental discharge of his revolver,I beg to state that I regarded him as one of the most intelligent seamen in the ship, He was a man of fine physique,had been trained in the Swedish Navy and held a mate’s certificate. He was thoroughly familiar with firearms and was an excellent marksman. The accident can not in any way be attributed to carelessness.

Very respectfully,               

W.T. Swinburne              


Commanding U.S.S.HELENA.

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 313, Entry 48. Addressed below close: “The Commander in Chief,/U.S.Naval Force on North Atlantic Station.”

Footnote 1: Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation.

Footnote 2: Commo. George Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base.

Footnote 4: Southerly direction.

Footnote 5: No copy of this report has been found.

Footnote 6: Length of 112.45 meters = 368.93 ft. and beam of 6.68 meters = 21.91 ft.

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