Cuba to open tour of sunken Spanish-American War vessels

22nd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Cuba plans to open underwater excursions to view six sunken vessels wrecked in 1898 off the island's shores during the Spanish-American War, the state-run Cubatur tourism firm said Friday.

From October 1, visitors will be able to dive around the wrecks of five Spanish warships that were trapped in Santiago bay in southeastern Cuba and sunk by US warships in a running naval battle on July 3, 1898.

The five Spanish ships were the cruisers "Cristobal Colon," "Almirante Oquendo," and the "Vizcaya," and the destroyers "Furor," and "Pluton."

The sixth sunken vessel was the US steamer "Merrimac," which the Americans scuttled at the mouth of the bay to block the escape of the Spanish fleet.

The Spanish suffered 371 dead, 151 wounded and 1,670 prisoners, including Spanish admiral Pascual Cervera, who called the mismatch "a sacrifice as sterile as it was useless." The US side suffered one dead and two wounded.

Tourism is Cuba's main earner, ahead of medical services in other countries. The island receives 2.4 million tourists annually, who bring in some two billion dollars in revenue.

© 2010 AFP

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