By Patrick McSherry

Image courtesy of Jose Poncet


The transport GENERAL ALAVA, was captured in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. She was later commissioned for use by the U.S. Navy.


The steel-hulled GENERAL ALAVA was built in 1895 by A. McMillan & Sons of Dumbarton Scotland. She was acquired by the Spanish Navy. The vessel was given the serial number "260" and designated in the International Code of Signals as "GQBP."

During the Spanish American War, the GENERAL ALAVA was used to transport Spanish troops, but was captured by American forces. On February 21, 1900, she was commissioned by the United States Navy.

GENERAL ALAVA's initial duties included ferrying U.S. Marines as needed in the Philippines to support efforts to put down the Insurrection. Her other early duties were quite varied - she travelled to Guam to bring back survivors from the YOSEMITE, lost in a typhoon, made a tour of the Philippines to aid in choosing a site for a leper colony, and transported a naval observatory party to Sumatra. The vessel served to with Admiral Remey on a tour of southern islands, and transported Governor (later U.S. President) William Howard Taft from Singapore to Manila and back in August, 1902. Before being decommissioned, she also transported a forestry commission to various areas in the philippines and then to Japan. She was decommissioned on January 24, 1903.

In 1904, GENERAL ALAVA was recommissioned for transport service in the Philippines, and was also sent to Shanghai, Japan. She was again decommissioned on February 26, 1906. On December 18, 1906, she was recommissioned again, carrying passengers between Cavite, and Olongapo until February 1925. During this tme, the vessel made several cruises to show the flag to Batavia, Saigon, and Celebes.

In February 1925, the aging vessel was ordered to Shanghai, by way of Batavia, Saigon, and Hong Kong. She arrived at Shanghai on April 24, 1925. Here she resumed her duties of carrying passengers, this time between Chinese ports, only returning to the Philippines twice. She carried the commander of the U.S. Asiatic fleet on several inspection tours.  On August 24, 1927, GENERAL ALAVA became the receiving ship for officers of the Yangtze Patrol, making several cruises up the Yangtze.

The final cruise of the GENERAL ALAVA on the Yangtze ended at Nanking on on June 3, 1929. She was used for target practice and was sunk on July 17, 1929.



Classification: Transport
Completed:  1895
Armament: Two 70mm Honotoria (70/16) breechloading guns
Contractor: McMillan & Sons, Dumbarton,Scotland
Length: 212 feet, 6 inches
Beam: 28 feet, 3 inches
Draft: 13 feet
Displacement: 1390 tons
Complement: 76 Officers and Enlisted Men udner the command of Ltnt. 2st Class Ramon Rodriquez
Engine type: Engines generated 140 hp., powering a single screw
Coal Bunker capacity: ?
Speed: 12 knots
Armor: Unarmored


Mitiuckov, Nicholas, naval historian, personal correspondence

Naval History Department, Navy Department, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 3, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1968, reprinted 1977) 26-37.

Poncet, Jose (contributed image of the GENERAL ALAVA underway).

Valdivieso, Mario, Naval Engineer, ret'd., Spain

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