The USS Maine was sent to the Cuba to protect American interests as a struggle for independence from Spain was occurring. On February 15, 1898, the battleship exploded suddenly and violently, killing 260 crewman aboard the ship.
A Naval Court of Investigation was convened to allocate blame for the incident. The court concluded that a sea mine in the harbor was responsible for the explosion. The court did not cite whose mine caused the explosion. Much of the United States Congress and the overwhelming majority of the American people blamed the Spanish for destruction of the ship. The event was one of the primary causes of American intervention in the Spanish-American war on behalf of the Cuban insurgents. The overwhelming consensus of historians today is that ship malfunction of some sort caused the explosion. This, however, was not a convenient explanation of the explosion for the navy or the American people at the time.