Tetuan (1863)

Spanish Broadside Ironclad (1863-1873)

Tetuán was the first Spanish-built Ironclad, the second in service with the Armada (Spanish Navy), designed on French plans but built at Ferrol, and faster than her sister Numancia. Her career included the Cuban squadron, the Glorious revolution, and the Canton of Carthagena uprizing, the Naval Battle of Portmán in which she was damaged. She had a short career indeed, burned in 1873 under battle damage repairs, probably by a saboteur, after just eight years of service. #armada #tetuan #ironclad #spanishnavy #ferrol

Development & Context

Spain in 1859 observed the French launching Gloire that year, and soon Britain answering with the massive iron-hulled Warrior class, and was caught off-guard, forced to reconsider its fleet composition, which was like all other nations, filled with ships of the line and frigates. The composition of the Armada at the time (see the to see here, was two 85-guns ships of the line four more ageing 80-74 guns, three large screw frigates and four sailing frigates, more sloops, corvettes, gunboats and bricks, notably to service its stil large empire.

Under Queen Isabel II, the navy advisor urged the funding of a vigorous naval program in 1861 to claim back strength, arguing for four broadside ironclads. Two were ordered in France, the first at La Seyne, and the second to be built in Spain at the Ferrol Royal Dockyard in Galicia, on the Atlantic coast, under French plans and guidance. This was Tetuán.
The Queen approved her advisors as having a fleet of armoured frigates, to restore the Armada as the world’s fourth-largest naval power again. Spanish shipyards however were stuck in traditional shipbuilding, and a general lack of industrial basis notably to provide wrought iron for armour plating, modern artillery, left to be desired and a long process with assistance of British and French shipyards and industries would be necessary to reach the desired standard.

Order and construction of Tetuán

While the project was drafted by the Directorate of Engineers, construction was authorized as the process was still ongoing, on November 29, 1860. Her keel was laid down on May 22, 1861, 3rd slipway at Ferrol shipyard. She was launched on March 19, 1863, so after two years, using wood from Spanish forest, still there from Philip II time forestry previsions for the Armada. After a prolonged commissioning given her novelty in Spain, lack of experience of the shipyard, she was eventually was delivered to the Navy on April 4, 1866, so six years after authorization, and to a record cost of 6,772,256 pesetas. Trials revealed however excellent seaworthy qualities, including under rig, an advantage for colonial missions. The name commemorated the battle of Tetuán, just fought by the Spanish expeditionary force with the fleet in a landing and won in 1860 as part of the Hispano-Moroccan War, versus tribal levies of Muhammad IV.


Hull and general layout
Tetuán was not that different compared to her French-built sister Numancia. The latter was a straight-up copy of Couronne, while the latter was smaller. She measured 279 feet 1 inch (85.1 m) long at the waterline, for a beam of 55 feet 9 inches (17 m) and draft of 21 feet 8 inches (6.6 m). Displacement was 6,200 long tons (6,300 t) and 6,859 long tons fully loaded versus 7,305 t (7,190 long tons) for her sister. She was a single deck style frigate, with full armoured belt, and a three masted squared sailing rig plan.

Tetuán was powered by a single horizontal trunk steam engine, driving a single four-bladed propeller. Steam was provided by eight boilers, all French provided like the engine. It was designed to produced a total output of 4,520 indicated horsepower (3,370 kW) for a top speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), however other sources speaks of 12 or even 13.5 knots. To compare her sister’s engine delivered 3,770 ihp (2,810 kW) for 12.7 knots. Long distance sailing was assured by her classic three masts rigging, and in addition 1,200 long tons (1,219 t) of coal were stored.

She was armed with thirty 68-pounder smoothbore, rear-loading guns, typical of the day. This was of course this was to be revised in the future. To be precised these were forty 68-pounder (20 cm) Rivera-type cannons, all in battery, but on deck there were six lighter bronze cannons: Two swivel mount 15 mm (6 inches) smoothbore howitzers, as well as 2 rifled 120 mm cannons (4.5 inches) and two 80 mm (3 inches) cannons.

Her waterline and Battery were protected by two 5.1 inches (130 mm) wrought-iron armor plating belts, with 13 cm iron plates (cast in France) all the way to the freeboard and down 1.20 meters below the waterline. There was no conning tower.

⚙ specifications

Displacement 6,200 long tons (6,300 t)
Dimensions 279 ft 1 in x 55 ft 9 in x 21 ft 8 in (85.1 x 17 x 6.6 m)
Propulsion 1 shaft, Trunk steam engine, 8 boilers: 4,520 ihp (3,370 kW)
Speed 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Range Unlimited with rig.
Armament 30 × 68-pounder smoothbore guns
Protection Belt: 130 mm (5.1 in), Battery: 130 mm (5.1 in)
Crew 584

Career of Tetuan

Commissioned in 1866, she left Ferrol on March 31, 1866 to perform her sea trials, and initial training, colliding on shoald at the bottom of La Palma. She had no drydock repairs, and instead she was assigned to the Pacific Squadron in emergency, leaving Ferrol on April 6, 1866 to Cádiz, until it was discovered that damage to her hull was greater than expected so she was diverted to Toulon and spend dry dock time from April 23 to May 30, 1866 with revision to her machinery and a change of propeller as well, reaching 13.5 knots. She was back in Cádiz on June 7 but was no longer required as the Pacific squadron had already withdrawn from Peruvian and Chilean waters.
Next she was assigned to Havana station, leaving Cádiz on December 22, 1866 and joining Méndez Núñez division from Rio de Janeiro. She remained there until 1868 and under command of newly appointed captain Don Jacobo Mac-Mahon y Santiago she left Cuban waters on May 11, 1868 for New York, arriving on May 17. May, and entered Brooklyn Arsenal for extra repairs and maintenance until sailing back to Cádiz on July 15, 1868.
By September 1868 she was in the bay of Cádiz during the “Glorious” revlution, joining Brigadier Don Topete y Carballo, Juan Bautista, herself under command of Don Victoriano Sánchez Barcáiztegui, supporing the Army of Don Juan Prim, for the battle of Alcolea until Queen Isabel II was dethroned.
Later she was disarmed at the Cartagena arsenal, pending improvement works.

However soon the cantonal Revolution broke off, and she joined the cantonal squadron of Cartagena on July 12, 1873.
By mid-1873, indeed, the First Spanish Republic was beset with the Cantonal Revolution while at the same time being wrecked by the Third Carlist War. Revolutionaries seized Cartagena on 12 July but the bulk of the Mediterranean Squadron was still in port, notably Tetuán, Vitoria and Numancia, as well as the corvette Méndez Núñez. German and British ironclads, SMS Friedrich Carl and HMS Swiftsure seized Vitoria and a wooden steam frigate, flagged as “pirates” after threatening to bombard Almeria unless a ransom was paid. They were turned over to the national government on 26 September. Tetuan was also declared a pirate by government decree under Nicolás Salmerón.

She participated to the Naval Battle of Portmán, 6 October 11, 1873. On 11 October, all three Cantonist ironclads, Numancia, Tetuan, and Méndez Núñez were at sea when they were attacked near Cartagena by the government fleet, led by the returned Vitoria but the latter government kept their distance and did not allowed them to close in. Fire was exchanged still, and the rebels suffered 13 dead and 49 wounded in this skirmish, Tetuán being among them, damaged. She was later repaired until destroyed by fire:

Loss: On December 30, Tetuán was lost, burning under repairs, and then sinking during the siege of Cartagena Cantona uprizing after a fire broke out on board, which was suspected to be the work of a saboteur.​ This was two weeks before the city surrendered to government forces.

Read More/Src


Greene, Jack & Massignani, Alessandro (1998). Ironclads at War: The Origin and Development of the Armored Warship, 1854–1891. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania: Combined Publishing. ISBN 978-0-938289-58-6.
Lyon, Hugh (1979). “Spain”. In Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 380–386. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
de Saint Hubert, Christian (1984). “Early Spanish Steam Warships, Part II”. Warship International. XXI (1): 21–45. ISSN 0043-0374.
Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World’s Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0.



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