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The Attempt to Raise the Cristobal Colon

The CRISTOBAL COLON, awash after the Battle of Santiago
This view of the Spanish Cruiser CRISTOBAL COLON shows the vessel after her suurender and subsequent capsizing at the conclusion
of the naval Battle of Santiago. One of her propellers can be seen extending above the water at right.
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The newspaper article below relates to attempts to raise the wreck of the CRISTOBAL COLON. The effort eventually proved a failure, and the wreck today is a divable ruin. To see the wreck today, click here.

The Article:

Admiral Sampson Reports That the Wreckers Are dubious About Raising
Sunken Ship
Washington, D.C. Wednesday

Rear Admiral Sampson has reported to the Navy Department that the wreckers who are engaged in wrecking the sunken Spanish ships near Santiago de Cuba have little hope of raising the Cristobal Colon. The vessel is in a dangerous position, her bow hanging over what may be termed a valley of the sea.

Department officials say they are not much surprised at the report of the wreckers, as they have known the difficulty incident to the raising of the vessel, but Mr. [Naval Constructor Richmond] Hobson is so enthusiastic, believing that by the execution of his engineering plan the ship can be saved, that they have determined to give him all the leeway he desires.

When Mr. Hobson was in Washington he explained to me that only a portion of the stern of the Colon is resting on the shore, the remainder being in an overhanging position. The reason the ship does not slide into deeper water is because some of the guns on her port side are sticking fast in the sand.

Mr. Hobson will not be able to leave for Santiago before the end of next week. If he does not succeed by means of air bags in getting the water out of the vessel he proposes to use chemicals for the purpose of generating a gas which will have a buoyant effect.

The reward which the Merritt & Chapman Wrecking Company will receive for raising the Colon will be $500,000. The department made public to-day the contract it had entered into with the company. This provides that the company "shall employ at Santiago the wrecking steamer Senior and crew, with three steam pumps, with boilers, equipments, fittings and connections, two steam pumps, two cables and anchors, two sets of blocks and falls, two surfboats, two cargo boats, one sea barge, two pontoons, fully equipped with jacks, chains, pumps, &c.; one air compressor, one steam diving apparatus and several sets of purchase blocks."

The Cristobal Colon has armament, stores, guns, material, equipment, fittings, appurtenances and other articles which may be recovered. If raised, the contract provides, the vessel shall be taken to New York, and there delivered to the commandant of the Navy Yard. The price to be paid per diem for the vessel, plant and employees of the company while at work at the scene of the wreck is to be $829.25. In case the company should succeed in raising the Cristobal Colon, the further compensation to be allowed therefor shall not exceed $500,000. The agreement may be terminated at any time by the government at its discretion.


Article 3: August 10, 1898, from the "Tele" [either New York Evening Telegram or the New York Morning Telegraph] newspaper article from the New York Times from a scrapbook that was kept by the wife of an officer of the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. Contributed by John LaBarre.

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