Spanish battleship Jaime I

Jaime I was the third and final member of the España class of dreadnought battleships of the Spanish Navy. She had two sister ships, España and Alfonso XIII. Jaime I was built by the SECN shipyard; she was laid down in February 1912, launched in September 1914, and completed in December 1921. She was armed with a main battery of eight 12-inch (305 mm) guns and could steam at a speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph).

Illustration of Jaime I as she appeared in 1937
Name: Jaime I
Namesake: James I of Aragon
Builder: SECN, Naval Dockyard, El Ferrol, Spain
Laid down: 5 February 1912
Launched: 21 September 1914
Completed: 20 December 1921
Fate: Wrecked by accidental explosion 17 June 1937; refloated, but discarded 3 July 1939
General characteristics
Class and type: España-class battleship
  • Normal: 15,700 t (15,500 long tons)
  • Full Load: 16,450 t (16,190 long tons)
Length: 140 m (460 ft) o/a
Beam: 24 m (79 ft)
Draft: 7.8 m (26 ft)
  • 12 × Yarrow coal-fired boilers
  • 4 × turbines
  • 4 × shafts
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 854
  • 8 × 305 mm (12 in)/50 cal guns
  • 20 × 102 mm (4 in) guns
  • 4 × 3-pounder guns
  • 2 × machine guns

Jaime I served in the Spanish fleet from 1921 to 1937. She and her sisters participated in the Rif War, where they provided gunfire support to Spanish Army forces. During the conflict, she was damaged by a rebel coastal battery. The ship served with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Nationalist bombers attacked the ship twice and on 17 June 1937, she was destroyed by an accidental explosion. The wreck was later raised and scrapped.

Technical characteristics

Jaime I was 132.6 m (435 ft) long at the waterline and 140 m (460 ft) long overall. She had a beam of 24 m (79 ft) and a draft of 7.8 m (26 ft); her freeboard was 15 ft (4.6 m) amidships. Her propulsion system consisted of four-shaft Parsons steam turbines and twelve Yarrow boilers. The engines were rated at 15,500 shaft horsepower (11,600 kW) and produced a top speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph). Jaime I had a cruising radius of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). Her crew consisted of 854 officers and enlisted men.[1]

Jaime I was armed with a main battery of eight 305 mm (12.0 in) /50 guns, mounted in four twin gun turrets. One turret was placed forward, two were positioned en echelon amidships, and the fourth was aft of the superstructure.[1] This mounting scheme was chosen in preference to superimposed turrets, as was done in the South Carolinas, to save weight and cost.[2] Her secondary battery consisted of twenty 102 mm (4.0 in) guns mounted in casemates along the length of the hull. They were too close to the waterline, however, which made them unusable in heavy seas. She was also armed with four 3-pounder guns and two machine guns. Her armored belt was 203 mm (8.0 in) thick amidships; the main battery turrets were protected with the same amount of armor plate. The conning tower had 254 mm (10.0 in) thick sides. Her armored deck was 38 mm (1.5 in) thick.[1]

Service history

Jaime I was laid down at the Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval shipyard in Ferrol on 5 February 1912. She was launched on 21 September 1914, less than two months after the start of World War I. Spain remained neutral during the conflict, but because Britain supplied much of the armament and other building materials, work on Jaime I was considerably delayed. The ship was ready to go to sea by 1917, but she was not completed until well after the end of the war; work was finally finished on 20 December 1921.[1] Upon her completion, she joined her two sister ships in the 1st Squadron of the Spanish fleet.[3][4] Jaime I saw action against insurgents in Morocco in the Rif War during the early 1920s along with her two sisters. Rif insurgents operating a coastal battery damaged the ship in 1924.[5]

She fought with the Spanish Republican Navy in the Spanish Civil War. At the outbreak of the Nationalist revolt, wireless operators in the navy headquarters Madrid intercepted radio messages from General Francisco Franco to rebels in Morocco. They alerted the crews aboard Jaime I and other ships, who mutinied against their rebellious officers and ensured the ships would remain under Republican control. The vessels were nevertheless crippled by poor discipline for some time, as they had murdered many of their officers, and distrusted those that were not killed.[6] On the first months of the war, Jaime I shelled a number of rebel strongholds, among them Ceuta, Melilla and Algeciras. In Algeciras she hit with her secondary armament the Nationalist gunboat Eduardo Dato, which was burned down to the waterline,[7] although she was later repaired and returned to service.[8]

During the Civil War, Jaime I was damaged by a Nationalist air attack at Málaga on 13 August 1936; a single, small bomb struck the ship in the bow and caused minimal damage. On 21 May 1937, she was attacked again while in drydock at Cartagena for repairs after a recent grounding. Three bombs hit the ship, that again caused only minor damage.[9] On 17 June, while at Cartagena, she was wrecked by an accidental internal explosion and fire, although sabotage is suspected. She was refloated, but determined to be beyond repair. She was officially discarded on 3 July 1939,[1][10] and broken up in 1941.[11]

All the guns were recovered in 1940; the front and rear twin turrets were used in the Gibraltar strait coastal defense batteries D9 and D10, El vigia and Casquebel respectively, near Tarifa. Abandoned in 1985, the twin turrets and cannons are still in place, but under degradation. All the other guns were placed in single mounts in several locations.[12]


  1. Gardiner & Gray, p. 378
  2. Fitzsimons, p. 856
  3. Gardiner & Gray, pp. 357376
  4. Garzke & Dulin, p. 438
  5. Miller, p. 131
  6. Salvadó, p. 224
  7. Alpert, pp. 101102
  8. Gardiner & Gray, p. 381
  9. Nofi, p. 32
  10. Gibbons, p. 195
  11. Platón, p. 75
  12. Alcázar García, p.14


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  • Gibbons, Tony (1983). The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers: A Technical Directory of the World's Capital Ships From 1860 to the Present Day. London: Salamander Books, Ltd. ISBN 0861011422.
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