|Popular newspaper depiction of the explosion that sank the USS Maine in Havana Cuba|
|Adm. Hyman G. Rickover|
Nonetheless, American newspapers at the height of its yellow journalism era whipped American public opinion into a war frenzy. During the pre-war investigation Captain Sigbie, who survived the explosion strongly suggested in one of the first telegrams he sent to Washington DC: “public opinion should be suspended until further report.”
The slogan “Remember the Maine” rang in U.S. ears and soon America was at war.
In 1976, American naval hero Admiral Hyman Rickover published his book, “How the Battleship Maine was Destroyed.” The man who was considered the father of modern U.S. nuclear navy wondered if the application of modern scientific knowledge could determine the cause. He called on two experts on explosions and their effects on ship hulls. Using documentation gathered from the two official inquiries, as well as information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, the experts concluded that the damage caused to the ship was inconsistent with the external explosion of a mine. The most likely cause, they speculated, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine, a problem that afflicted other ships of the period.
Department of the Navy—Naval History and Heritage Command
History Matters—George Mason University
|USS Maine enters harbor Havana, Cuba, 1898|
Photos from the Library of Congress
|Wreck of the USS Maine, 1898 in Havana, Cuba|
|Funeral procession in Havana for the 260 American sailors killed aboard the USS Maine|
|USS Maine Circa 1895|