Daily Event for March 11, 2008

The Spanish cruiser Reina Regente sank in a storm on or about March 11, 1895. She had departed Tangiers, Morocco returning to Cadiz, Spain when she went missing. The British and French ships joined the Spanish in the search for the lost ship and this caused quite a bit of confusion as to the fate of the ship and over 400 men on board.

It was not until March 13th that she was considered overdue and reports soon began to arrive. The captain of a French steamer reported to the authorities in Gibraltar on Mar. 15th that he "saw a big vessel ashore in Aceltunos Bay." She was unable to assist the vessel ashore on account of the heavy weather prevailing. This was supposed to be the missing Reina Regente. A Moorish steamer that went out in search of the missing Spanish warship returned to Tangier and reported that she found no trace of the vessel, this also on Mar. 15.

Several British warships out of Gibraltar also searched for the cruiser, in one report also dated Mar. 15th it was claimed that they had located her "in a disabled condition off the African coast." The Spanish cruiser Alfonso XIII, a sister to the Reina Regente, was sent to look for her and even reported locating the ship off Bajo de Aceitunas with the top of her masts just above the water, this was reported on March 20th. It seems that all these reports were incorrect.

It must have been clear by April that the ship and the entire crew were lost, however on April 2nd this appeared in the newspaper on April 2, 1895: "MADRID special: The Minister of Marine persists in the belief that there is yet a chance that the Reina Regente may be afloat, and that the wreck discovered by the Spanish cruiser Alphonso (sic), near the Straits of Gibraltar, may be that of a merchant vessel. A cruiser is still searching for the missing warship."

Some debris including flags and a compass box were reported coming ashore at Tarifa, Spain on Mar. 15th, this report must have been accurate because on April 25th this was reported: "GIBRALTAR,- The Spanish frigate Lala de Luzon has discovered the wreck of the missing cruiser Reina Regente, which was lost while bound from Tangier to Cadiz in March last. The wreck lies midway between Tarifa and Trafalgar in water 109 fathoms deep."

And so the final resting place of the Reina Regente and over 400 men was finally found, only a few bodies were ever found, those washed ashore later. The exact reason she sank is unknown, but one explanation is that she was top heavy due to the weight of the armament, so said Diaz Morea, a Spanish Naval officer of the time. He got the information from a report filed by one of her commanding officers who stated "the cruiser was not suited for heavy weather owing to her being overburdened by her armament." What ever the reason it is safe to assume that she went down fast and the crew had little if any warning to what awaited them.
© 2008 Michael W. Pocock

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