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By Patrick McSherry

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The Spanish cargo and passenger steamer, ISLA DE MINDANAO, a possible auxiliary cruiser, was burned and destroyed at the conclusion of the Battle of Manila Bay.


The ISLA DE MINDANAO was built in Great Britain, being completed in 1881, and named LISMORE. In 1883, she was purchased by the Spanish tobacco company Tabacalera and renamed. In the mid 1890's, she was confiscated by the Spanish government for conversion into an auxiliary cruiser. The work does not seem to have been completed but she was overhauled, and one of her masts was removed.

The vessel had capacity for 104 passengers in first class, 32 in second class. When used as a troop transport, she could carry 1,126 men.

Admiral Montojo states in his report of the Battle of Manila Bay that the ISLA DE MINDANAO arrived in the bay the day before the battle. He urged her captain to take the vessel to Singapore to save it, as it was known that the Americans had arrived in the Philippines and were probably advancing on Manila. The captain, Antonio Roldos, believed that he needed confirmation from his company before he could take this drastic move. When confirmation did not arrive and a battle appeared in the offing, the ISLA DE MINDANAO was placed under the orders of the Spanish Navy. She was anchored in a shallow area behind Cavite to be used to held fend off an American attack.

Once the Spanish fleet had been destroyed, the USS CONCORD entered Bacoor Bay to destroy the ISLA DE MINDANAO. Firing on the vessel with her six inch guns, the CONCORD believed that her crew was gone  and set fire to the vessel. The Spanish crew had to abandon the vessel under the American fire and could not prevent the fire from spreading. ISLA DE MINDANAO was destroyed.


The ISLA DE MINDANAO was not a warship, and was not prepared to take part  in a military action. Under the circumstances, her crew showed great bravery in staying with the vessel and the Spanish Navy under the circumstances.


Two masts
377 feet (114.91 meters)
41.17 feet (12.55 meters)
Depth of Hold:
33.59 feet, (10.24 meters)
8,000 tons (loaded); 4,195 tons (registered)
Engine type:
Engines generated 2,424 hp.
13.5 knots
Coal bunker capacity:
1,050 tons
Coal endurance @ 10 knots:
9,700 miles


(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on

Clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, The Abridgement of  the Message from the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1899.

Dewey, George, Autobiography of George Dewey (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987, originally published in 1913 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York) ISBN 0-87021-028-9.

Mitiuckov, Nick, naval historian and author (personal correspondence)

Naval History Department, Department of the Navy, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1959.

Sura, Frederick (personal correspondence)

Valdivieso, Mario, formerly of the Spanish Shipyard at Ferrol (personal correspondence).

Young, Louis Stanley, ed., The Bounding Billow (USFS OLYMPIA's Ship newspaper), June 1898.

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