USS Merrimac (1894)

USS Merrimac was a United States Navy collier during the Spanish–American War. It was the only American vessel sunk by the Spanish navy in that conflict.

USS Merrimac
  • 1894: Solveig
  • 1897: Merrimac
Namesake: Merrimack River
Port of registry:
  • 1894: Norway
  • 1897: United States
Builder: Swan & Hunter, Wallsend
Yard number: 194
Completed: November 1894 (as Solveig)
Acquired: 12 April 1898
Commissioned: 11 April 1898
Fate: Sunk, 2 June 1898 by Vizcaya, Reina Mercedes, and Plutón
General characteristics
Type: steamship
Tonnage: 3,362
Length: 322 ft 9 in (98.37 m)
Beam: 44 ft 2 in (13.46 m)
Depth: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)
Propulsion: 1 × triple-expansion steam engine

Merrimac, a steamship, was built by Swan & Hunter shipyard as SS Solveig in Wallsend, England, in November 1894. She was purchased by the US Navy in April 1898. Rear Admiral William T. Sampson ordered her to be sunk as a blockship at the entrance of Santiago Harbor, Cuba, in an attempt to trap the Spanish fleet in the harbor. On the night of 2–3 June 1898, eight volunteers attempted to execute this mission, but Merrimac's steering gear was disabled by the fire of Spanish land-based howitzers. The American steamer was later sunk by the combined gunfire and the torpedoes of the armored cruiser Vizcaya,[1] the unprotected cruiser Reina Mercedes, and the destroyer Plutón[2] without obstructing the harbor entrance. Her crewmen were rescued by the Spanish and made prisoners of war.[3] After the Battle of Santiago de Cuba destroyed the Spanish fleet a month later, the men were released. All eight were awarded Medals of Honor for their part in the mission.[4]

The eight volunteer crewman of the Merrimac were:


  1. The Boys of '98, By James Otis
  2. "What Hobson and his own men could not do by means of their own torpedoes, the Spaniards did with theirs, for they launched several from the Mercedes and the Pluton which gave the coup de grace, sinking the Merrimack just off Socapa Point." Wiley, Edwin and Everett Rines, Irving (1915). Lectures on the growth and development of the United States, Volume 10. American Educational Alliance, p. 126
  3. Hobson, p. 90
  4. Hobson, p. xxiv


  • Sinking of the U.S. Navy Collier Merrimac
  • Hobson, Richmond Pearson (1899). The Sinking of the Merrimac. Classics of Naval Literature. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-632-5
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • "US People – Montague, Daniel, Chief Boatswain". Naval Historical Center. 3 May 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2006.

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