- Category: Half day tours
- Modality: Nautical tours
- Duration: 2.00 hrs
- Departure time: Variable dive schedules according to tide tables from Santiago de Cuba showing high and low tides of the bay.
- Tour guide: Yes
- Children are allowed: No
- Languages spoken: Spanish and English
- Location: Marina Marlin Punta Gorda. 1ra., Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Tel: (+53 22) 69 1446.
Scuba Diving in Wrecks of the Hispanic - Cuban and North American War of 1898. "COAL SHIP USS MERRIMAC"
Archaeological Park of the Natural and Cultural Underwater Heritage Battle of Santiago de Cuba Declared a National Monument in 2015.
The "Archaeological Park of the Natural and Cultural Underwater Heritage Battle of Santiago de Cuba" occupies a coastal strip of about 120 kilometers in length and was witness to the unequal combat between the squadrons of the Spanish Rear Admiral Pascual Cervera and the American Rear Admiral William Sampson, in which all the Spanish ships were annihilated ending the Spanish colonial rule in America, and giving way to the emergence of the most powerful empire in the history of mankind, the United States of America. The place is formed by seven archaeological sites (Las Cuatro Bocas Playa Siboney, Rancho Cruz - Buey Cabón, Playa Mar Verde, Ensenada de Juan González, Aserradero and Playa La Mula), whose environmental and archaeological characteristics are different from one site to another along the southeastern coastal strip of the province of Santiago de Cuba.
The vestiges of that naval crusade make up what is currently known as the "Batalla Naval de Santiago de Cuba" Underwater Archaeological Park. In this site lie the wrecks linked to the landing and the naval conflict, as well as all those material evidences belonging to the ships that are related in one way or another to the events, such as: masts, masts, remains of the rigging of the mastheads, ironwork, parts of the artillery sites, thick and medium caliber projectiles, flushes, balusters and mechanisms of the propulsion system.
It is a true privilege to learn about history through these wrecks, exceptional witnesses to the events of the Naval War of 1898, and to enjoy diving today in an environment of spectacular beauty, where the Sierra Maestra mountain range bursts into the Caribbean in an abrupt and irregular manner, cut by canyons and riverbeds and estuaries that extend into deltas covered with pebbles and low areas, forming wetlands covered with mangroves in the shelter of virgin inlets and coves: ecosystems that support incredible biological diversity.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE: "THE FOUR MOUTHS". Shipwreck: Great Ship "USS Merrimac".
- The shipwreck "USS Merrimac" is located in the place known as "The Four Mouths", oriented from stern to bow in its imaginary line of the bay at 13 ° NNE, about 190 meters from the Ciudamar pier, 206 meters from Punta Churruca, 200 meters from Cayo Granma and 211 meters from Socapa. It also rests at various depths: from 23 meters from the stern and 19 meters from the bow.
- Site: Santiago de Cuba Bay, the shipwreck is located within the perimeter of the "Castillo del Morro" World Heritage Site.
- This ship was built in November 1894 in the "Swan & Hunter" shipyard in Wallsend, England, under the name of "Solveig". In April 1898 she was bought by the U.S. Navy and renamed "USS Merrimac". It was active in the ranks of the North American Navy as a coal supply vessel, and was part of a naval squadron, commanded by Admiral William T. Sampson.
- The "USS Merrimac" set sail on June 3, 1898, at 4 a.m., the 101-meter-long North American coal ship headed for the narrow entrance to Santiago de Cuba Bay, first very slowly and then at full speed to achieve her military objective of obstructing the departure of Vice Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete's fleet.
- This fabulous plan was proposed by Admiral Sampson to Lieutenant Hobson, in this way the sinking of the "Merrimac" would block the exit from the port of Santiago de Cuba and reduce the city at the lowest possible cost. The operation was carried out at night, only 7 men were in charge of the task, they placed the cargoes below the waterline and a cez that exploded them released an elbow anchor that made the ship to be braced, with which it would be practically crossed in the narrow channel of the entrance of the Bay of Santiago de Cuba preventing the exit of the Spanish ships.
- This sinking, which only a few meters away separated the sunken ship from the appropriate site, after a previous, meticulous and chosen plan, undoubtedly changed the course of history.
- As you dive into the wreck, you will find obvious traces of the violent combat that will lead the magnificent coalman to his unfortunate end.
TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VESSEL "USS Merrimac":
- Name of shipwreck: 1894: "Solveig"; 1897: "USS Merrimac"
- Type of vessel: Cargo ship adapted to Carbonero.
- Flag: United States.
- Shipyard: Swan & Hunter, Wallsend, United Kingdom.
- Launch date: 12 April 1898, by the US Navy.
- Length: 101 meters.
- Beam: 18 meters.
- Strut: 13.46 meters.
- Commander: Lieutenant Henrry Person Hobson Chief of Command.
- Crew members: Only seven men in command.
- Draft: 8.31 meters.
- Displacement: 4,976 tons.
- Maximum speed: 14 knots.
- Type of bow: Broken.
- Machinery: English.
- Type of machinery: 1 steam engine, with triple expansion.
- Type of feeding: Mineral coal - X tons.
- Power: X- CV with forced draught.
- Boilers: German.
- Propulsion: 2 propellers.
- Mast: 2 masts with davit and a central chimney distributed at bow and stern.
- Artillery: No.
- Decks: One continuous steel and wood deck.
- Rudder: At the stern, spade outside the transom with shaft running to the deck.
- Shielding: No.
- Deck Shielding: No, unarmored steel decks.
- Barbets: No.
Diving services included:
- Basic diving equipment, compressed air tank and lead belt.
- Assistance of an internationally certified instructor guide, who will conduct an informative session about the dive to be performed.
- Boat that takes you from the diving center to the diving points (in principle, the dives that leave from the marina of Punta Gorda will be done by diving boat).
Marlin Punta Gorda Dive Center
- The Dive Center serves the hotels in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
- Departure capacity in 10 Pax.
- Frequency: 1 departure per day according to Santiago de Cuba's tide tables showing high and low tides and the weather conditions of the bay.
Distance to be covered in the tour (round trip): 5 km approximately.
Approximate duration of the tour (total): 1.30 hours approximately.
Degree of difficulty: High.
Very important note: For safety reasons and protection of underwater heritage, customers should never directly touch the remains of a wreck and must strictly follow the instructions given by the diving instructors.
Very important note: It is mandatory for customers to present their official diving certification.
TIPS: • Recommended: light clothing, swimsuit, towels, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and photographic camera. • We recommend that the client can bring their own diving mask. • The client can bring his complete diving equipment if he wants to. • We recommend that the client can bring his/her personal dive computer. • We recommend that the client can bring one or more bottles of mineral water to stay hydrated as well as light foods rich in protein or fruit.
- The boat is shared.
- No minimum number of divers is required for the excursion. Holiadventure will reconfirm 48 hours before the departure of your tour. If the provider decides to cancel, for not meeting the minimum required amount of passengers, Holiadventure will offer an alternative tour or fully refund cost of your trip.
- Transportation not included in the services of the diving excursions in Santiago de Cuba. The client must arrive at the Marina Marlín in Punta Gorda by his own means 30 minutes before the indicated time of the excursion.
- The excursion can be cancelled in an unexpected way if the general weather conditions and especially in the sea advise it. This does not imply any responsibility or penalty for the agency and the marina company offering the service. In principle we will try to change the date of the excursion for the following days when the conditions improve. If this is not possible, we will proceed to refund the total value of the excursion paid by the client previously.
- The client must present a valid diving certificate issued by an internationally recognized diving organization.
- The client must sign a waiver of responsibility for diving as a risky activity, releasing the agency and the marine company offering the service from any legal responsibility, before leaving for the excursion.