Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete to Minister of Marine Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo
CAPTAINCY-GENERAL OF THE SQUADRON.
HONORED SIR: ...The run from the waters of Martinique to those of Curaçao offered nothing worth mentioning. At 7 o’clock a. m. of the 14th, about 5 miles from Little Curaçao, I gave orders to the destroyers to enter the port first; but at 8.30 I saw them off the entrance. The Plutón signaled: “Awaiting permission of governor.” The squadron stopped and soon after the Plutón signaled that only two ships were permitted to go in. This was confirmed by the pilot, who arrived soon after, demanding to know the names of the ships, their complements and armament, and the amount of coal required. I selected the Teresa and Vizcaya, whose coal supply was lower than that of the others. I gave the information asked for, stating that each ship needed 700 tons, and the pilot went back.
I gave instructions that the Furor should be recoaled from the Colón, and that the latter ship, together with the Oquendo and Plutón, should remain outside. The pilot returned, accompanied by the Spanish consul, who told me that the stay in the harbor must be limited to forty-eight hours. At 12.30 we cast anchor inside, after which I had an interview with the governor, who told me that this was a necessity imposed upon his Government by both belligerents. I accepted the 600 tons of coal, which was all that could be had in the town, and ordered the purchase of provisions so as to supply each ship for thirty days, from the captain down to the cabin boy.
At 5 o’clock p. m. I dispatched to your excellency the following cipher message, which I hereby confirm: “After consulting with the second in command of the squadron and the captains of the ships, I came here in hopes of finding the coal announced in your telegram of April 26. Collier has not arrived, and I have not been able to obtain here the coal I need. There is a controversy about it, and I must see what I can do. Only two ships have been allowed to enter, and their stay has been limited to forty-eight hours.”
... The coaling proceeds slowly owing to lack of means for shipping it, but I intend to go out by any means this evening, no matter what quantity I may have on board, for while the question of coal is of the utmost importance to me, I do not want to spend another night with the squadron divided.
On board InfantaMaria Teresa, St. Ann Harbor, Curaçao, May 15, 1898.