Projectiles from the Spanish-Cuban-American War of 1898 are Recovered from Matanzas Bay in Cuba

Fresco depicting the naval battle that ended Spanish rule over Cuba in 1898. (Twitter)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, August 3, 2023 — Three projectiles related to the operations of the Spanish-Cuban-North American War* of 1898 that remained submerged in the waters of the Matanzas Bay (western Cuba) were recently rescued and submitted to a conservation process, Cuban state media revealed this Wednesday.

The vice president of the Cuban Speleological Society, Esteban Grau, explained that in order to extract the patrimonial projectiles, a “complex and extremely cautious” process had to be followed.

During the operations, innovative techniques such as photogrammetry were used to reconstruct and create virtual models of the marine space that allow detailed documentation of the place where each element was found, the specialist reported, quoted by the Cuban News Agency (ACN).

GPS was also used in conjunction with other digital devices to pinpoint the exact moment and time of the discovery.

The work was organized in two teams, one with the divers dedicated to marine activities and the other with land support for the assembly of ropes that allowed the extraction of the projectiles. It was also supported by the advice of specialists in the field of explosives from the Ministry of the Interior and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, according to the team member Judith Rodríguez.

The studies, carried out since 2022, determined that there were at least five of the explosives used in the battle reported on April 27, 1898, in the Matanzas Bay, during the contest between the US forces and the Spanish colonial defenses, according to archaeologist Odlanyer Hernández de Lara.

After remaining under the sea for 125 years, the projectiles will be subjected to a treatment for their conservation in order to avoid an increase in corrosion and to be able to exhibit them in museums, added the researcher.

The Spanish-Cuban-North American War was a warlike conflict that pitted the United States against Spain – from April to August 1898 – together with Spains overseas possessions in America and Asia, mainly Cuba and the Philippines.

This conflagration ended with the defeat of Spain and the loss of a large part of its colonies: Cuba and Puerto Rico (in the Caribbean Sea) and the Philippine Islands and the Micronesian Islands (in the Pacific Ocean).

*Translator’s note: US history books generally refer to this conflict as the “Spanish-American War.”


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