Skip to main content

Commodore Francis M. Bunce, Commandant, New York Navy Yard, to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

U.S. Navy Yard, New York,

February 21, 1898


     1. I have to report that the Spanish Armored Cruiser VIZCAYA anchored off Tompkinsville, S.I., on Sunday the 20th instant, at 3.27 P.M.1

     2. The arrangements for the protection of the vessel, as previously reported to the Department, were at once put in force.2

     3.  Lieutenant A. Ward, U.S.N., one of my aides, boarded the VIZCAYA, immediately after the vessel came to anchor, and extended the usual offer of civilities. The Commanding Officer, upon being notified by him of the disaster to the MAINE, immediately ordered his colors to be displayed at half-mast, and stated that they would remain half-masted during his stay in this port. He further expressed his extreme regret at the news of the disaster above mentioned.3

     4. This day, at 11 O’clock A.M., I received a visit of the Commanding Officer of the VIZCAYA, who was accompanied by Mr. Arturo Baldasano,4the Spanish Consul General at this port. They were received with the usual honors.

     5. The Commanding Officer of the VIZCAYA renewed to me the Expressions of his regret at the recent calamity in the harbor at Havana and stated, through the Consul General, that he should take no part in any of the intended festivities to be given in his honor while at this port. He also stated that, for the same reason, his visit would be shorter than he had intended.5

     6. Having been informed of the intended celebration of Washington’s6 Birthday, the Commanding Officer of the VIZCAYA  stated that he would participate in the same, but would again half-mast his colors on the following day.

     7. Up to the present time, the arrangements for the protection of the VIZCAYA have been found entirely satisfactory, except that owing to the continued bad weather it is difficult for the smaller police launches to maintain their position in the immediate neighborhood of the ship.

Very respectfully,

FM Bunce

Commodore, U.S. Navy,

Commandant, Nay Yard & Station.

Source Note: TLS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 127. Addressed below close: “The Secretary of the Navy,/Navy Department, Washington, D.C.” Notation under the date in the place/date line: “20.” On a separate address sheet is a stamp from the Navy Department indicating that the letter “94446” was sent from Bunce at the New York Navy Yard and concerned “‘VIZCAYA’ Rel. to visit of.” In friendly reciprocity to the visit of U.S.S. MAINE to Havana, the Spanish sent one of their newest and best ships, the cruiser VIZCAYA, Capt. Antonio Eulate y Fery, commanding, to visit New York City.

Footnote 1: That is, Tompkinsville, Staten Island, N.Y. Originally, Vizcaya was to dock at lower Manhattan, but for security reasons, the ship’s anchorage was shifted to the naval anchorage off Tompkinsville. Rickover, How the Battleship Maine was Destroyed, 61.

Footnote 2: In a letter of 18 February, Bunce detailed that the waters in the vicinity of Vizcaya’s anchorage would be patrolled “day and night” in eight-hour shifts by two Navy Yard tugs, followed by two New York City harbor tugs, followed by two steam launches from the New York City police department. While patrolling, each vessel was to have aboard a squad of five marines commanded by a non-commissioned officer. Moreover, the New York City police were to “carefully guard the wharves around the vicinity” of the Spanish cruiser’s anchorage. See, AFNRC, M625, Roll 127.

Footnote 3: Lt. Aaron Ward. Vizcaya arrived off Point Pleasant, N.J., on 18 February. Because of dense fog, the cruiser could not enter New York harbor and instead anchored off Sandy Hook, N.J., where it was discovered by American newspapermen who informed its captain that the Maine had been destroyed. Rickover, How the Battleship Maine was Destroyed, 61.

Footnote 4: Capt. Antonio Eulate y Fery and Consul Arturo Baldasano y Topete.

Footnote 5: VIZCAYA left New York on 24 February.