The End of a New Beginning

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Thunderous booms and bangs sounded the evening of February 15, 1898. The battleship Maine exploded on the harbors in Havana, Cuba. Panicky passengers scurried frightened to safety, while some remained trapped, helplessly, with no possible escape. Startled survivors searched for crew members and friends. The battleship which detonated into several pieces sank to the ocean floor dragging rapt wounded and dead. Two-hundred and sixty-six of the three-hundred and fifty-five officers, crew members, sailors, and Marines on board died or drowned in the explosion or shortly after suffering from injuries or shock.

The USS Maine was the United States Navy’s second commission battleship; however, Maine was classified originally as an armored cruiser. Heavily armed with guns and torpedoes, this ship was ready for battle. The USS Maine, named after the state of Maine, and completed on November 18, 1889. The battleship remained stationed near the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean. In January 1898, President William McKinley sent the 6,789 ton ship, from Key West, Florida to Havana, Cuba in hopes to help protect the United States’ interests during the Cuban Revolt against Spain. Three weeks later the battleship mysteriously exploded inside the Havana Harbor. The captain, Charles Sigsbee and several officers aboard the ship survived, because of their location in the rear end of the ship.

A few weeks after the explosion, investigations began. First to explore the tragic scene was the United Stats Naval Court of Inquiry, located in Key West. They discovered that a naval mine caused the explosion. Researchers, Del Peral and De Salas conducted another investigation the same year and collected information given to them by surviving...

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...the government removed the remains of the wreckage and bodies of those who died on the ship. They also buried the bodies in Arlington National Cemetery and some at their hometowns. A memorial with the ship’s mast was placed in Arlington National Cemetery to honor the lives lost from the explosion.

Although the definite cause of the explosion still remains a mystery, the death of the members on board of the USS Maine persists to live on, marking the end of a new beginning.

Works Cited

Rickover, Hyman G. How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed United States Navy Department, 1975 Department of the Navy. 13 August 2003. Department of the Navy -- Naval Historical Center. 13 May 2010. 2001-2010. Online Highway LLC. 13 May 2010

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