Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1657)

Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Part of the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660)
Blakesstgeorgeatsantacr.jpg
Robert Blake's flagship George at the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1657.
Date 20 April 1657
Location Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Result English victory [1]
Belligerents
  Spain   The Protectorate
Commanders and leaders
Spain Admiral Diego de Egües y Beaumont
Spain Alonso Dávila y Guzmán
The Protectorate Admiral Robert Blake
The Protectorate Sir Richard Stayner
Strength
2 galleons, [a]
9 merchant ships, [b]
5 other vessels,
1 castle and various shore gun emplacements
23 warships [3]
Casualties and losses
2 galleons scuttled
9 merchant ships scuttled
[4]
300 killed [5]
1 ship severely damaged,
48 killed & 120 wounded [6] [7]
Admiral Robert Blake led the attack at Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife was a military operation in the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–60) in which an English fleet under Admiral Robert Blake attacked a Spanish treasure fleet at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands. Most of the Spanish merchantmen were scuttled and the remainder were burnt by the English, though the treasure, which had already been landed, was saved.

Background

England had decided to support France in its war in the Low Countries with the Spanish. War was openly declared in October 1655 and endorsed when the Second Protectorate Parliament assembled the following year. One of the prime enterprises was the blockade of Cadiz, which had not previously been attempted on such a scale. Robert Blake was to be in charge and also was to come up with methods that he had used in his previous encounters with the Dutch and Barbary pirates.

Blake kept the fleet at sea throughout an entire winter in order to maintain the blockade. During this period a Spanish convoy was destroyed by one of Blake's captains, Richard Stayner. A further six ships were sent from England as reinforcements towards the end of 1656, including George, which became Blake's flagship. In February 1657, Blake received intelligence that the convoy from Mexico was on its way across the Atlantic. Although his captains wanted to search for the Spanish galleons immediately, Blake refused to divide his forces and waited until victualling ships from England arrived to re-provision his fleet at the end of March. After this Blake (with only two ships to watch Cadiz), sailed from Cadiz Bay on 13 April 1657 to attack the plate fleet, which had docked at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands to await an escort to Spain.

Blake's fleet arrived off Santa Cruz on 19 April. Santa Cruz lies in a deeply indented bay and the harbour was defended by a castle armed with forty guns and a number of smaller forts connected by a triple line of breastworks to shelter musketeers.

In an operation similar to the raid on the Barbary pirates of Porto Farina in Tunisia in 1655, Blake planned to send twelve frigates under the command of Rear-Admiral Stayner in Speaker into the harbour to attack the galleons while he followed in George with the rest of the fleet to bombard the shore batteries. [8]