Warship Wednesday August 8
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Aug 8
Here we have the monitor USS Puritan dropping it like its hot shelling the port of Matanzas on the 27th April 1898.
She was laid down ostensibly in 1864 during the Civil War and never completed. However with a smile and a wink naval engineers started a ‘Great Repair’ of this old hulk using all new materials, even on a new graving dock starting in 1874, and just 22 years and a major keel-up redesign later, in 1896 the brand new USS Puritan (BM-1) came down the ways, only 32-years in the making.
By 1896 monitors were passe, kind of like a cop carrying a revolver these days. They still worked if used correctly, but were just dangerously obsolete. Nevertheless, Puritan served admirably (*against rather obsolete Spanish Ships) in the Spanish American War of 1898. Assigned to the Cuban blockade in April, she joined New York and Cincinnati in shelling Matanzas on the 27th. After a stop at Key West in early May, she departed on the 20th to join the force building under Rear Admiral William T. Sampson that would eventually move against Santiago. Puritan linked up on the 22nd and Sampson moved his ships to Key Frances on the Nicholas Channel in order to execute his plan to contain the Spanish Fleet at Santiago. The success of Sampson’s squadron at Santiago on July 3 resulted in almost the complete destruction of the Spanish Fleet. After Cuba, she sailed for Puerto Rico where she landed a party of US Marines and shelled the Spanish positions at the Battle of Fajardo.
After the war she was soon decommissioned again and spent most of the next twenty years at the disposal of various Naval Militias (the precursor of the Navy Reserve) for training dockside before finally being stricken in 1918. With the hulk of the old USS Plunger aboard (see last week’s Warship Wednesday) she was sold four years later, having served in one form or another in the US Navy for 58 years, only about 9 of them on active duty.
Type: Puritan class Monitor
Displacement: 6,060 long tons (6,157 t)
Length: 296 ft 3 in (90.30 m)
Beam: 60 ft 1.5 in (18.326 m)
Draft: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Depth of hold: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 12.4 knots (23.0 km/h; 14.3 mph)
Armament: • 4 × 12 in (300 mm) breechloader rifles
• 6 × 4 in (100 mm) breechloader rifles
• unknown × 6-pounder guns
Armor: Depth: 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Amidships: 14 in (360 mm)
Barbettes: 14 in (360 mm)
Turrets: 8 in (200 mm)
Deck: 2 in (51 mm)