How the Battleship Maine was Destroyed

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Naval Institute Press, 1995 - 178 pages
When the battleship Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898 it precipitated the conflict that marked a decisive point in American history - the Spanish-American War. Conveniently, the Spanish were blamed for the explosion, but nagging questions persisted. There were several contradictory conclusions drawn about the cause of the great disaster, but none was based on solid technical explanations. As an engineer, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover was intrigued by this quandary and determined in 1976 to resolve it with the use of modern technical knowledge. Armed with an analysis he requested from Ib Hansen and Robert Price, Rickover examined the 1898 inquiry and a more sophisticated subsequent study conducted when the stricken vessel was raised in 1911. He concluded that political considerations had led to technically unsound positions. In 1976 he published the original edition of this book, positing an internal rather than external cause for the explosion: spontaneous combustion in a bunker containing bituminous coal caused a fire that triggered an explosion of the black powder stored in an adjacent magazine. Today, with a new foreword by the original research team of Hansen, Price, Francis Duncan, and Dana Wegner, and new material that was not publicly available in 1976 added to the appendix, this updated edition of Rickover's well-presented hypothesis provides the single best account of the cause of the explosion. As such it is a key component to understanding a major episode in American history and deserves to reach a broad audience.

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