España class

Alfonso XIII (later renamed "España")

Ships España (ex-Alfonso XIII) (Nationalist Navy ) Jaime I (Republican Navy )
Displacement 15,700 tons normal, 16,400 full load
Dimensions Length: 139.90 m. (459' 2'') Beam: 24 m.(78' 9'') Draft: 7.70 m. (25' 6'')
Machinery 4 Screws, Turbines Parsons, 12 Boilers Yarrow of coal 20,000 HP.= 19.5 knots.7,500 milles/10 knots
Armament As built: 8x305mm (12'') / 50cal. 20x101.6mm (4'') / 50cal .-2x47mm AA - 2 machine guns. España 1937:12 x101.6mm- 4x88 mm - 2x20 mm and several machine guns Jaime I 1937: 20 x101.6mm- 2x76 mm. - 4x47 mm and several machine guns
Armor V= 230-150-75 mm (9''-6''-3'') H=50-25 mm. (2''-1'') Turrets= 250 mm (10'')
Crew 850

The Dreadnoughts of the España class were the smallest in the world due to budgetary restrictions. Though their armament was competent enough, these ships lacked the necessary protection and speed. However, they were authentic battleships and not merely coastal ships. The construction of more powerful battleships (343 mm guns) was abandoned when World War I broke out. Originally there were three ships in this class: España, Alfonso XIII and Jaime I. The construction of the latter lasted considerably more after the war had started.

The España was lost in August 1923, while operating off the coast of Morocco, when she ran aground in thick fog. The guns and other fittings of the ship were salvaged, but recovering the hull proved impossible and it was later smashed by a storm. The three ships played an important role in the war for the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco.After the proclamation of the Republic, the battleship Alfonso XIII was renamed España. Between 1931 and 1936 several modernization projects were on the drawing board but none was ever carried out.

España (ex-Alfonso XIII)

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España 1937

Laid down: 23 February 1910. Launched: 7 May 1913. Completed: 16 August 1915 . Sunk: 30 April 1937.

The end of the España
The end of the España

In July 1936 the España, by then a decrepit ship, was in reserve at El Ferrol with a reduced complement. The battleship was seized by the nationalists after a Republican attempt to defend her. She was quickly refitted (12 August), and , together with destroyer Velasco, was used to blockade the Republican northern coast and to support landings. On August 31, she was hit by a torpedo from the Republican submarine C-4 that turned out to be a dud.

With the Almirante Cervera and destroyer Velasco, she took part in the seize of San Sebastian. When finally the Republicans deployed their fleet to the North, the Nationalists reduced their naval activity to avoid a confrontation with a numerically superior enemy fleet. When the Republican ships left the North, the España returned to her blockade and bombardment duties.

On 30 April 1937 somewhere off Santander, destroyer Velasco spotted a freighter trying to force the blockade and radioed España to come and help with her big guns. While approaching the coast, the old battleship struck a mine and sank rapidly. The Velasco abandoned the chase and was able to rescue all of España's crew but five.

Jaime I

Jaime I 1937

Laid down: 5 February 1912. Launched: 21 September 1914. Completed: September 1921. Sunk: 17 June 1937.

Jaime I

At the beginning of the war, the Jaime I was homeported at Santander. With cruisers Libertad and Miguel de Cervantes she received an order to head for Gibraltar strait. While underway, the crews, loyal to the Republic, attempted a mutiny and eventually seized the ships. The now Republican vessels joined with seven destroyers and regrouped in Tangier (a neutral port) where they established their base on July 20. On July 22, the Jaime I participated with the cruisers in the bombardment of enemy positions at La Linea and on 25 July at Ceuta.

Jaime I
Jaime I

After the protest of the Nationalists, the International Committee was forced to evict the Republican fleet from Tangier. From then on, the Republican ships chose Malaga as their home port and maintained the blockade of the Gibraltar strait.

On 5 August, thanks to the air support, the Nationalists were able to force a convoy from Morocco through the Republican bloackade. Only the destroyer Alcalá Galiano was able to somewhat harass enemy cargo ships but Nationalist gunboat Dato succeded in keeping the destroyer at bay and the Galiano had to withdraw.. On 7 August the Jaime I and Libertad bombarded the coast of Algeciras and sank the gunboat Dato. On 13 August, the Jaime I was hit by an aerial bomb while moored at Malaga.

El Jaime I in
Cartagena 14-8-1936

In September the battleship was dispatched in support of the Republican territories in the North with cruisers Libertad and Cervantes and five destroyers. The operation achieved little success and the Nationalists succeded in wresting the control of the strait.

After that episode Republican fleet command was moved to Cartagena, in the Mediterranean. From there, Jaime I participated in some bombardment missions. In April, after bombarding the city of Malaga, the Jaime I ran aground. She was salvaged and sheltered in Almeria. There, on 21 May 1937, she was hit by three bombs. The Jaime I, while under tow to Cartagena on 17 June, suffered an internal explosion which caused 300 dead and her total loss.



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