La Herradura naval disaster (1562)
The La Herradura naval disaster was a naval disaster on October 19, 1562 in the bay of La Herradura, Almuñécar, Spain. 25 ships sank in a storm and some 5000 people were killed.
On October 18, 28 galleys, loaded with supplies, soldiers and their families set sail under command of Don Juan Hurtado de Mendoza y Carrillo, Captain General of the Galleys of Spain.
A strong easterly storm took the fleet by surprise, so Mendoza decided to take cover in La Herradura Bay. This is a horseshoe-shaped bay, opening towards the south-west. But in the morning of October 19, the storm unexpectedly returned, now blowing from the south. The trapped ships were thrown onto each other and then crashed upon the rocks. 25 of the 28 galleys sank and between 3000 and 5000 people died. The surviving ships were La Soberana, Mendoza and San Juan. Some 2000 people rescued themselves by swimming towards the coast. Many of them were galley slaves because they were lightly dressed and well-trained.
This was a true disaster for the Spanish Navy, which had just suffered a terrible defeat in the Battle of Djerba. Nevertheless, Oran and Mers El Kébir were successfully defended against the Ottomans.
Today, a monument in La Herradura notes this tragedy.