USS Maine in Havana Harbor, 1898
Excerpt from an official report of a U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry, March 21, 1898 In 1898, the battleship USS Maine was sent to Havana, Cuba, to protect U.S. interests during a Cuban revolt against Spain. On February 14, the vessel exploded and sank. Many Americans blamed Spain, and the incident helped trigger the Spanish-American War.
The vertical keel [of the ship] is broken in two and the flat keel is bent at an angle similar to the angle formed by the outside bottom plating. This break is now about six feet below the surface of the water, and about thirty feet above its normal position. . . . . In the opinion of the court, the MAINE was destroyed by the explosion of a submarine mine, which caused the partial explosion of two or more of her [ammunition storage rooms] . . . . The court has been unable to obtain evidence fixing the responsibility for the destruction of the MAINE upon any person or persons.
Newspaper excerpt from front-page story, San Francisco Call, March 6, 1898
The Call correspondent has the best of grounds for saying that Consul General Lee . . . has been quietly conducting an investigation of his own, independently of the Naval Court; that he has employed detectives who have obtained front Havana sailors evidence strongly pointing to a plot to destroy the Maine, and that he filed a report with the State Department expressing the opinion that although the Spanish Government was not in any way responsible for the Maine's destruction, it appears the work was done by Spaniards who were sympathizers of [Spainís governor in Cuba] Weyler.