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Spanish Cruiser REINA CRISTINA

By Francisco José Díaz Díaz

Spanish Cruiser Reina Cristina
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To read Admiral Montojo's report of the Battle of Cavite/Manila Bay, click here
To read the battle report of the Reina Cristina's second in command, click here for Spanish version or click here for English version
Additional views of the Reina Cristina:

Reina Cristina in Action ||| Reina Cristina under canvas ||| Wreck of the Reina Cristina ||| Reina Cristina's 37 mm guns today


The REINA CRISTINA was a sistership of the Cruiser REINA MERCEDES which served at Santiago de Cuba. Before the war, REINA CRISTINA was the flagship of Spanish Navy's Asiatic Squadron. During the first Tagalog Revolt against Spanish Rule in the Philippines (1896-1897), the  REINA CRISTINA supported to Spanish army in several actions. Later, she was the flagship of Rear Admiral Montojo during the Battle of Cavite/Manila Bay.


This Cruiser was named for the Spanish Regent Queen Maria Cristina, second wife and widow of King Alfonso XII. The vessel was launched on October 24, 1887 at El Ferrol, Spain. Her sisterships were the cruisers ALFONSO XII and REINA MERCEDES, both of which served in Cuba. REINA CRISTINA had many problems with her boilers and she never reached the theoretical speed (16 knots).

On 1894 REINA CRISTINA was transferred to Asiatic Squadron as Flagship to prevent the German attempts for to occupy the Caroline Islands.

During the first Tagalog Revolt, she was active in patrols along the Philippine coasts working to stop smuggling of contraband and arms. She supported the Spanish army's actions at Cavite, Novaleta and Binacayan, opening fire on the Insurgents when necessary.

Capt. D. Luis Cadarso y Rey, killed in action.When the Spanish American War broke out, Montojo's Spanish squadron was sent to Subic Bay, as first planned. When it was found that the coastal defense sent to Subic Bay had not been put in place, Admiral Montojo ordered a return to Cavite. As the wooden Cruiser CASTILLA was unable to steam under her own power, she was towed by the cruiser REINA CRISTINA.

On May 1, at  4:00 A.M., Montojo signaled his forces to prepare for action.When american squadron came into view, the REINA CRISTINA slipped her cables to prepare to move against Commodore George Dewey's American vessels. At 5:20 AM, all Spanish ships opened fire. BALTIMORE, OLYMPIA and BOSTON directed their fire mainly against REINA CRISTINA. Several shots hit both her forecastle and her hull. During the action, the REINA CRISTINA tried to close on the OLYMPIA to try to ram her but the American gunfire forced her to abandon the attempt.

With half of her crew out of action and the ship a raging inferno, Montojo ordered the vessel scuttled, and tried to save his men. During the abandon of the ship, her commander, Captain D. Luis  Cadarso y Rey, was killed by a shell.


The Cruiser REINA CRISTINA was built for colonial purposes (intended for high speed and  moderate armament) and she was not suited for action against heavily armed vessels. Her speed never came close to what was intended by the designers, compounding the problem. Basically, she was outdated when constructed originally.

Reina Cristina Cap Tally
Hat band of a Reina Cristina crewman


Spanish Cruiser Reina Cristina Profile

Unprotected Cruiser, first class
October 24,1887
2 masts (two fully, one schooner-rigged)
Six 120 mm (4.7")Honotoria guns

Two 70 mm Nordenfelt rapid-fire guns

Three 57 mm Nordenfelt rapid-fire guns

Two 42 mm Nordenfelt rapid-fire guns

Six 37 mm guns

Three 350 mm torpedo tubes
Naval Shpyards ar El Ferrol, Spain.
282 feet
43 feet 5 Inches
22 feet (6.70 meters)
3,090 tons (fully loaded)
380 men
Engine Type:
3,900 hp engines powering a single screw
Boiler Type:
16 knots (theoretical) 10 knots (actual)
Coal bunker capacity:
720 tons
Endurance at normal speed
3,900 miles
Normal coal supply:


Alfredo Aguilera & Vicente Elias. Buques de Guerra Españoles (1885-1971). 2nd Edition. Editorial San Martin. Madrid. 1972. (Courtesy of Jose Poncet)

Rear Admiral F. de Bordeje y Morencos. Crónica de la Marina Española en el Siglo XIX, 1868 - 1898. Tomo II. Ministerio de Defensa. Madrid. 1995 (courtesy of Jose Poncet)

Chao, General Andrés Mas, La Guerra de Filipinas 1896-1898 (War in Philippines 1896-1898). Madrid: Editorial San Martín, 1998).

Pery, José Cervera, La Guerra Naval del 98 (Naval War in 1898). (Madrid: Editorial San Martín, 1998)

Poncet, Jose (source of color image of the Reina Cristina on the page).

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