The mighty, if hard to see, last hurrah of the Silver State monitor, 101 years ago today

Here we see the Arkansas-class monitor USS Tonopah, Monitor #8, in her submarine tender role, sporting a complex geometric “dazzle” camouflage at Boston Navy Yard, 21 December 1917.

This image was taken just before she set out for the Azores in February 1918 to shepherd the early submarines K-1, K-2, K-3, K-5, and E-1 along with a host of wooden submarine chasers and armed yachts operating out of that near-Europe strategic crossroads in the last nine months of the Great War.

This was the pinnacle of monitor development by the U.S. Navy, able to float in 12 feet of water yet packing a pair of 12″/40cal Mark 3 guns and as much as 11-inches of Harvey Armor. However, they were slow (12kts), poor sea boats, and had short legs, which meant they would never be any good in a fleet engagement but could serve well as coastal defense boats.

This relegated these craft to sideline support missions as tenders for equally maligned early submarines as their names were taken from them to be given to “real” battleships. You see Tonopah had originally been laid down as USS Connecticut, 17 April 1899, then commissioned as Nevada in 1903 when the former name was recycled for use on BB-18. In 1909, she picked up the monicker Tonopah, after the small Nevada town, when that state name was set aside for BB-36.

Post-war, Tonopah (ex-Connecticut, ex-Nevada) was decommissioned at Philadelphia, on 1 July 1920 and sold for scrap two years later, aged just 19 years.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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