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San Felipe
1690

The San Felipe, launched in 1690, was a beautiful Spanish Man of War. She was purported to be the lead ship of the famous Spanish Armada. The San Felipe displaced more than 1000 tons and was armed with 104 guns, enabling her to take on the most formidable ships in the French and British navies. The San Felipe's role in the war against the British and French was to help protect Spanish settlements and harbors, to transport treasures, and to safeguard the long and hazardous passage back to Spanish ports. In 1705, she participated in a furious and heroic battle between 12 Spanish ships and 35 British ships. After 24 hours of battle, she was captured by an English ship, but was so badly damaged that she could not be salvaged as a prize. She went down to the bottom of the ocean with several tons of gold.

So the story goes, but many historians disagree. Doubts on San Felipe's historic authenticity have been heard many times, mainly in forums on ship history and ship modelling. In the book 'El Buque en la Armada Espanola' there is an
illustration of the “San Felipe” which was drawn by Rafael Berenguer.

Hoping to get some more information about the origin of the San Felipe, a Spanish speaking member of the “Arbeitskreis historischer Schiffbau”, Mr. Peter Böhmer, phoned the Spanish historian Berenguer. Mr. Berenguer is famous for his many drawings of Spanish ships of war that are cited in many books and articles. When contacted the 88-year-old explained to Mr. Böhmer that the drawing was made by a Spanish ship modeller in the 1950s. According to Berenguer the draft should originally represent the “Real Felipe” of 1732. But because of the poor historical sources a draft was generated that combined some properties of Spanish ships of the line in early 1700s.

A connection of Real Felipe and San Felipe can be found elsewhere in Spanish literature. Several times models of the San Felipe have been named “Real Felipe of 1732”. Mejias Tavero, in his article about the San Felipe, also, refers to the Real Felipe and to drawings of the “Arte de Fabricar Reales”. One can assume that the San Felipe might be just another interpretation of the poorly documented Spanish flagship “Real Felipe” of 1732.

 

San Felipe 1690

There are no contemporary paintings or drawings of the San Felipe. This picture of the San Felpe has been created by a computer artist.

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