Tag Archive | monitor

The Terror of Castillo San Felipe

Osprey’s June offerings, to include US Navy Battleships 1886–98: The pre-dreadnoughts and monitors that fought the Spanish-American War by Paul Wright, looks on point when it comes to maritime art.

From the book, highlighting the monitor USS Terror:

Sampson’s North Atlantic Squadron arrived off San Juan, Puerto Rico, the morning of May 12, 1898, and opened fire at 0516hrs. Captain Nicoll Ludlow’s monitor USS Terror (BM-4) is seen close to shore, shelling the San Juan fortification of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and coming under return fire from Spanish coastal artillery. Wind and seas were high, causing ships to roll and hurting US gunnery. Dense white smoke so obscured targeting that Sampson eventually ordered: “use large guns only.” Terror, fifth in the US column, unleashed 31 10in/30-caliber rounds in three passes, including one that scored a “most vicious” direct hit on a Spanish artillery battery. Terror retired at 0815hrs, having suffered no casualties. Sampson’s squadron had lost a total of two killed and three wounded. Spanish casualties came to seven killed and 52 wounded, including civilians.

A “Great Repair” (wink wink) of the 1863-vintage Miantonomoh-class monitor USS Agamenticus, the 263-foot-long Terror was constructed slowly over a 22-year period by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia/ New York Navy Yard. Carrying a pair of 10″/30cal Mark 1 Mod 1s, Terror had only been placed in full commission in 1896. She was not very successful, as her engineering suite broke down extensively, was good for 12 knots when wide open and working correctly, and a low freeboard shipped water over the deck in any sea state.

Terror‘s SpanAm War duty was to be the highlight of her active career and, hopelessly obsolete the monitor was decommissioned and placed in ordinary on 25 February 1899. A spell as a training ship at Annapolis later gave her a modicum of post-war work. She ended her career as a test hulk at Indian Head and was (believed) scrapped sometime in the 1930s.

Warship Wednesday, April 4, 2018: The often imitated but never duplicated Indy

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, April 4, 2018: The often imitated but never duplicated Indy

Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 30184-B

Here we see the “Western gunboat ram” USS Indianola in 1863 during her brief service to the Navy. A one of a kind vessel, the Indy was laid down as a riverboat in Antebellum times but was rushed into service in the Civil War, rode hard, and never made it out alive.

A 174-foot long side-wheel screw steamer, Indianola was constructed in the Cincinnati yard of Mr. Joseph Brown in early 1862, specifically for service with the U.S. Navy on the Western river systems for operations against the newly-formed Confederacy.

Indianola under construction via LOC https://www.loc.gov/item/2013647478/

Compared to the 15-vessel City class-ironclads designed by Mr. Samuel M. Pook, the infamous “Pook’s Turtles,” Indianola was about the same size and had iron-plating 2.5 inches thick, enough to ward off musketry and shrapnel but not serious artillery rounds.

Pushed out into the Ohio River on 4 September, the partially complete 511-ton armored gunboat was placed in commission just 19 days later under the command of Acting Master Edward Shaw. The reason for the rush job was that Cincinnati at the time was considered under threat of capture by Confederate Gen. Kirby “Seminole” Smith whose “Heartland Offensive” reached its high-water mark in Lexington, Kentucky, just some 80 miles to the South a few days prior.

Armed with a pair of 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbores and another pair of smaller 9-inch guns, Indianola remained in the Ohio for several months even after Smith retreated to the Deep South and by January 1863, under the command of LCDR George Brown, she was detailed to the infant Mississippi Squadron, a force that the Navy never knew it would have. By 13 February, the plucky new ironclad met the enemy for the first time by running past the fearsome Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi at night.

As noted by DANFS:

She left her anchorage in the Yazoo at 10:15 p.m. 13 February and moved slowly downstream until the first gun was fired at her from the Vicksburg cliffs slightly more than an hour later. She then raced ahead at full speed until out of range of the Confederate cannon which thundered at her from above.

The United States gunboat INDIANOLA (Ironclad) running the blockade at Vicksburg [Feb. 13, 1863] via Harper’s Weekly, v. 7, (1863 March 7), p. 149. LOC https://www.loc.gov/item/99614196/

She anchored for the night 4 miles below Warrenton, Miss., and early the next morning got underway downriver, with orders from Adm. David Dixon Porter to blockade the mouth of the Red River.

Two days later, Indianola chased and engaged in a long-range artillery duel with the Confederate Army-manned “cotton-clad” 655-ton side-wheel converted tug, Webb, that proved ultimately unsuccessful, her high speed (for a river boat) negated by the fact that she had to tow pair of coal barges alongside for refueling in hostile enemy-controlled waters.

On the evening of 24 February, the Union gunboat came across the Confederate steamer Queen of the West, formerly a U.S. Army-manned ram, who, along with her partner and recent Indianola-nemesis Webb, cornered the Yankee in the shallow water near New Carthage, Mississippi and commenced a river warship battle. While Indianola was better armed with her big Dahlgrens compared to the Parrots and 12-pdr howitzers of the Rebel ships, she was no match for the demolition derby unleashed on her by the Confederate vessels on either side who smashed her a reported seven times leaving the ship “in an almost powerless condition.”

LCDR Brown had more than two feet of cold Mississippi river water over the floor of his fighting deck and she was surrounded by now four Rebel vessels, packed with armed infantry ready to board. With that, Indianola ran her bow on the west bank of the river, spiked her guns, and surrendered to Confederate Major Joseph Lancaster Brent, her service to the U.S. Navy lasting just six months.

The loss meant that Porter would keep his fleet north of Vicksburg and that Farragut, entering the Mississippi from the Gulf, would be forced to run his own past Port Gibson the next month to join him.

While Brent went to work salvaging his newest addition to the Confederate fleet, Brown, who was wounded, handed over his personal Manhattan .36 caliber percussion revolver and was toted off to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia

However, Brent would not “own” the ex-Indianola for long.

While the rebs were busy trying to save as much as they could from the Union gunboat, members of Porter’s fleet “resurrected” the ghost of the stricken ship and crafted a fake version of her to run past the batteries at Vicksburg in a scare job the night following Indianola‘s capture. The cobbled-together craft was complete with a Jolly Roger flag and the words “Deluded People Cave In” painted on the faux paddle wheel housings.

Admiral [David Dixon] Porter’s Second Dummy Frightening the Rebels at Vicksburg. This shows a wooden dummy “ironclad” made from an old coal barge. Wood engraving after a sketch by Theodore R. Davis – Harper’s Weekly

From DANFS:

A dummy monitor was made by building paddle boxes on an old coal barge to simulate a turret which in turn was adorned with logs painted black to resemble guns. Pork-barrel funnels containing burning smudge pots were the final touch added just before the strange craft was cast adrift to float past Vicksburg on the night of Indianola’s surrender, Word of this “river Monitor” panicked the salvage crew working on Indianola causing them to set off the ship’s magazines to prevent her recapture.

And, it worked, with Brent triggering the Union vessel’s powder stores and sending her wheelhouse to the sky.

USS Indianola (1862-1863) Is blown up by her Confederate captors, below Vicksburg, Mississippi, circa 25 February 1863, upon the appearance of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fake monitor “Wooden Dummy “Taken from a sketch by RAdm. Porter, this print is entitled “Dummy Taking a Shoot”. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 53235

On the bright side, Brown only languished at Libby prison until May and was exchanged, going on to command the Unadilla-class gunboat Itasca at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864 and retire at the rank of Rear Admiral in 1897. Brent, his first captor, went on to become a one-star general leading the Louisiana Cavalry Brigade in the tail end of the war. He passed in 1905 and his papers are preserved at LSU.

As for Indianola, once the Mississippi river calmed down, her wreck was refloated, towed to Mound City, Illinois, and sold on 17 January 1865. Her name has never again appeared on the Navy List.

Brown’s Manhattan .36 caliber revolver? It is on display at Wilson’s Creek battlefield near Republic, Missouri.

Specs:

Displacement: 511 tons
Length: 174 ft (53 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Propulsion: Sidewheel, Steam-driven screw
Engine Size: Cylinders 24 inches diameters by 6 foot in length of the piston stroke, 5 boilers – Side Paddlewheels
Speed: 9 knots
Armament:
2 – 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbore
2 – 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

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The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Warship Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015: The enduring monitor of the Amazon

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Nov. 25, 2015: The enduring monitor of the Amazon

Note the sat dish

Note the sat dish and Jet Ranger

Here we see, stationed deep in the Mato Grosso region of the Amazon Rainforest around Morro da Marinha, near Fort Coimbra, is the unique inland river monitor Parnaíba (U17).

Laid down in 1936 on the Isle of Snakes at the Brazilian Naval Yard (Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro) as part of the Brazilian Navy’s modernization program on the eve of WWII, Parnaíba is a traditional name for that fleet with no less than four predecessors carrying it back well into the 19th Century.

Parnaíba was an important vessel, with President Getulio Vargas himself attending the keel laying.

Pre-1960, note the 6" forward mount. That's a big gun for a 180-foot riverboat

Pre-1960, note the 6″ forward mount. That’s a big gun for a 180-foot riverboat. She also has a very British tripod mast and fire-control tower.

She was built with English assistance, her power plant included 2 Thornycroft triple expansion boilers while her armament consisted of a single 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL, a pair of Royal Ordnance QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers and, for defense against small boats, a pair of 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss singles. Some 180-feet long, Parnaíba could float in 5-feet of freshwater. To protect her topside she was given 38mm of armor on deck and around her bridge while a 3 inch belt protected the engine room, waterline and machinery spaces.

Commissioned 4 March 1938, Parnaíba proceeded inland to join the Flotilha de Mato Grosso as the fleet flag.

Peaceful riverine service ended in late 1942 when she was rushed to the coast upon Brazil’s entry into World War II.

Her armament updated with four single 20/70 Mk 4 Oerlikons and some depth charge racks, Parnaíba was used extensively for coastal patrol, then as the guard ship at Salvador-Bahia, and escorted at least five coastal convoys on the lookout for German U-boats and surface raiders which, gratefully, she never encountered. Her hull was thought too shallow to catch a torpedo, she was considered strong enough to fight it out in a surface action if push came to shove.

On 29 Nov 1943, Parnaíba greeted the fresh new battleship USS Iowa on a brief visit to Bahia just days after that leviathan dropped President Roosevelt off at Oran, Algeria. The next day she escorted Iowa back out after a night of festivities.

Parnaiba U17-02

The rest of her wartime experience were even more quiet though she did sortie out ready for action and to search for survivors when the Brazilian cruiser Bahia was lost in July 1945. Thought sunk at first by a rogue German U-Boat but later confirmed Bahia was destroyed in a freak accident by her own depth charges.

Landing her depth charges and sailing back up river in October of that year, Parnaíba has maintained her place in the Amazon area ever since.

SURVEY SHIP PARNAIBA

In 1960, she was overhauled and a U.S. 3” /50 Mk 22 and two 40 mm/60 cal Mk 3 Bofors replaced her dated 25-Pounders and 6-incher though her Oerlikons were saved as they were still useful and her Hotchkiss popguns kept for saluting.

monitor-Parnaíba-operando-com-helicóptero-do-HU-4-ampliação-foto-MB-sexto-Distrito-Naval

A subsequent series of overhauls between 1996-99 saw her six decades-old engineering suite removed (and put on museum display), replaced by a more modern set of GM twin diesels. Racal Decca and Furuno 3600 radars were fitted as were more modern 40/70 Bofors in the old positions. A helicopter platform was also added for a light Jet Ranger or A350-sized whirlybird.

She also carries multiple 7.62 and 12.7mm machine gun mounts as well as 81mm mortars to drop it like its hot in a region that sees a good bit of smuggling and the occasional excitement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Note the 20mm over the fantail, right out of the Battle of Midway. Also note that Brazilian LSOs wear the same color float coats and everything as in the USN

Her current fodder of 76mm and 40mm rounds. Her crew still drills with both and her WWII-era Mk 22, other than on some ships of the Thai and Philippine navies, is the last in functional use on a warship

Her current fodder of 76mm, 40mm and 20mm rounds. Her crew still drills with her WWII-era Mk 22, and other than on some ships of the Thai and Philippine navies, is the last in functional use on a warship

Ahh, don't these belong as hood ornaments for WWII submarines?

Ahh, don’t these belong as hood ornaments for WWII submarines? How many thousands of man hours have been put into polishing that bright work over the past half century?

A 40mm will still make mincemeat of a low-flying plane or helicopter as well as ruin a small boat (or ashore guerrilla hangout)

A 40mm will still make mincemeat of a low-flying plane or helicopter as well as ruin a small boat (or ashore guerrilla hangout). Note the old school Hotchkiss in the far left of the picture.

If past history is any indicator of future events, odds are Parnaíba will be in service another several decades and she is regarded as the oldest commissioned naval ship still in active fleet use and not in museum status.

Parnaíba-128a

Celebrating her 75th year in service in 2013

Celebrating her 75th year in service in 2013

Brazilian Navy river monitor u17 Brazilian Navy monitor Parnaíba (U17) still in service

Below is a 2015 VERTREP operation where you get a pretty good view of the old girl

Most of these images in the post are courtesy the excellent Brazilian warship site, Naval Brazil and Defesa Aérea & Naval which have more information about this interesting vessel.

Specs:

Displacement:
620 tons – Standard
720 tons – full load
Length: 55 m (180.4 ft.) oa
Beam: 10.1 m (33.1 ft.)
Draught: 1.6 m (5.2 ft.)
Propulsion:
Two VTE engines, two 3-drum Thornycroft boilers, 70 tons fuel oil (As built)
Two 650shp GM 8V92 diesel engines, 90 tons diesel
Two propellers
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h)
Range: 1,350 mi (1,170 nmi; 2,170 km) (2500 km) 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 60-90
Armament:
(As built)
1x 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL,
2x 1 QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
(1945)
1x 6″/50 (15.2 cm) BL,
2x 1 QF 25-pounder (3.45″/13cal) howitzers
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
4x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikons
Depth charges
(1960)
1x 3″/50 Mk.22
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
2x 1 40/60 Mk 3
6x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikon
(1999)
1x 3″/50 Mk.22
2x 1 47mm (3pdr) Hotchkiss
2x 1 40/70 M48
2x 1 20mm/70 Oerlikon
2 × 81mm mortar
Various machine guns

Aviation facilities: Helipad for IH-6B Bell Jet Ranger III or H-12 Squirrel (after 1996)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday Nov.4th, 2015: HMs long-lasting welterweight sluggers

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Nov.4th, 2015: HMs long-lasting welterweight sluggers

IWM photo

IWM photo

Here we see the head of her class, the Royal Navy monitor HMS Erebus at a buoy in Plymouth Sound in early 1944, as she was prepping to pummel the jerries overlooking Normandy. Though a cruiser-sized hull with a destroyer’s draft, this ship and her sister, HMS Terror carried a very impressive set of battleship 15-inchers and her crew knew how to use them.

Rushed into service in the darkest days of World War I, these ships were built not to slug it out with the Kaiser’s High Seas Fleet (as the whole rest of the RNs battle line was!) but rather to close into old Willy’s stormtroopers along the French and Belgian coasts and plaster them but good.

As such, these 405-foot/8,450-ton ships, with a shallow 11 foot draft, carried an impressive armament but very little armor (just 4-8 inches, enough for splinter protection from German destroyers and field artillery), and were very slow, at a very pedestrian 12 knots.

hms_terror_1916

Huge anti-torpedo bulges were fitted to these squat ships to allow them to suck up German fish and keep punching (These proved so effective that when Erebus was attacked by a German Fernlenkboote remote controlled boat carrying a very serious 1550-pound charge, all it did was cave in 50 feet of her bulge and knock loose a lot of equipment– but failed to sink her. Terror likewise survived German torpedo boat love while in service).

Named after the two ships, HMS Erebus and Terror, of the 1839-43 expedition to Antarctica of Sir James Clark Ross which resulted in mapping most of the Antarctic Coastline (and for whom the Ross Sea is now named) and later of the ill-fated expedition of Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, their namesakes were tiny 100~ foot long “bomb vessels” with huge 13 and 10 inch mortars– which in the end was surprisingly fitting. (As a footnote, the “bombs bursting in air” part of the Star Spangled banner comes from the 1814 mortaring of Fort McHenry, for which bomb vessel Terror was on scene).

'Erebus' and the 'Terror' in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael.

‘Erebus’ and the ‘Terror’ in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael, via wiki

As with any monitor, its the guns that steal the show and both 1916 Erebus and Terror carried a pair of huge 15″/42 (38.1 cm) Mark I naval guns, which proved to be among the most popular and hard-service type carried by HMs battleships throughout WWI and WWII, being carried by everything from the Queen Elizabeth to Vanguard classes, as well as being fitted as giant coastal artillery pieces at Dover and Singapore.

These were really big guns: Worker being helped out of a BL 15 heavy gun after she had finished cleaning the rifling, Coventry Ordnance Works, England, United Kingdom .

These were really big guns: Worker being helped out of a BL 15 heavy gun after she had finished cleaning the rifling, Coventry Ordnance Works, England, United Kingdom .

Terror's 15s, these ships had thier turret set so high to enable her shallow draft

Terror’s 15s, these ships had their turret set so high to enable her shallow draft. Note the observation tower.

From the same shoot: A female worker cleans the rifling of a 15-inch gun after being lifted inside the barrel in the Coventry Ordnance Works, Warwickshire during the First World War. (Source -IWM Q 30135) Colorized by Doug

From the same shoot: A female worker cleans the rifling of a 15-inch gun after being lifted inside the barrel in the Coventry Ordnance Works, Warwickshire during the First World War. (Source -IWM Q 30135) Colorized by Doug

These beasts could fire a 1,920 lb. shell (of which the stubby monitors carried 200 in their magazine) out to 29,000 yards. It should be noted that the monitors were able to elevate their guns to an amazing 30 degrees (most of the battleship fittings were limited to 20 degrees, with only HMS Hood able to match the monitors’ arc), giving them about 5,000 yards more range. Later SC super charges boosted this to 40,000~ yards, which is downright impressive for guns designed in 1912!

HMS ‘Terror’.Date painted 1918

Erebus‘s guns came from the 355-foot monitor HMS Marshal Ney (and were originally built for the Revenge-class battleship Ramillies) while the smaller Ney was given a more appropriate single 9.2-inch mount. Terror‘s guns came from a spare turret left over from the Courageous-class battlecruiser HMS Furious that was finished as an aircraft carrier and didn’t need them.

HMS Terror

Both ships were laid down at Harland and Wolff yards, Erebus at the concern’s Govan, Scotland site, Terror at H&W’s Belfast site (the same yard that had just three years before completed RMS Titanic) in October 1915.

By the fall of 1916, they were both in commission with their abbreviated 204-man crews and headed to the Continent.

PhotoWW1-03monErebus1NP

They proved their worth at bombarding German naval forces based at Ostend and Zeebrugge as part of the Long Range Bombardment force for the Zeebrugge raid and in plastering the Kaiser’s forces on shore during the Fourth Battle of Ypres.

Erebus kept slugging into 1919-20 when she participated in the British Intervention in Northern Russia, sailing around the White Sea as needed and popping off shots at the Bolsheviks around Murmansk and Archangel.

Terror at Malta

Terror at Malta, 1930s

After the war, while other monitors were laid up or went to the breakers, T&E remained somewhat active, flexing their guns in a series of tests against captured German armor and serving as gunnery training ships, guard ships and depot vessels as needed.

Oh the fate of peacetime service! Note the school house/barracks

Oh the fate of peacetime service! Note the school house/barracks on Erebus in this 1930s photo.

Terror at Singapore, with camo added

Terror at Singapore, early 1939, with camo added

When the next war came, the aging monitors were stripped of their peacetime housing, given an updated AAA suite, and called back to service, first in the Mediterranean Fleet, where Erebus‘s shallow draft enabled her to become a blockade-runner into besieged Tobruk and Terror stood to in Malta to provide a floating anti-air battery against incessant Axis air attacks.

HMS ‘Terror’

Speaking of which, Terror was severely damaged in attacks by German Junkers Ju 88 bombers on 22 February 1941 off the coast of Libya and sank while under tow the next day, gratefully with very few casualties.

British monitor HMS Erebus at a buoy in Plymouth Sound. IWM

Erebus finished her Second World War, returning to French waters where she helped bombard British beaches at Normandy. Suffering a detonation that crippled one of her guns, she nevertheless continued the war into late 1944, advancing with the land forces along the coast into Belgium and Holland.

Decommissioned at the end of hostilities, she was scrapped in 1946 although her single good 15-incher left was kept as a spare for the RN’s last battleship, HMS Vanguard.

Hard serving, indeed.

Specs:

HMS EREBUS 1915-1946
Displacement: 7,200 long tons (7,300 t)
Length: 380 ft. (120 m) (p/p); 405 ft. (123 m) (o/a)
Beam: 88 ft. (27 m)
Draught: 11 ft. 8 in (3.56 m)
Installed power: 6,235 ihp (4,649 kW) (trials); 6,000 ihp (4,500 kW) (service)
Propulsion:
2 × triple expansion reciprocating engines,
Babcock boilers
2 × screws
Speed: 13.1 kn (24.3 km/h; 15.1 mph) (trials); 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph) (service)
Capacity: Fuel Oil: 650 long tons (660 t) (normal); 750 long tons (762.0 t) (maximum)
Complement: 204 WWI, 315 WWII
Armament:
(1916)
2 × 15-inch /42 Mk 1 guns in a single turret
2 × single 6-inch (150 mm) guns
4 × single 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft (AA) guns
(1939)
2 × 15-inch /42 Mk 1 guns in a single turret
8 × single mount 4-inch (102 mm) BL Mk IX guns
2 × single mount 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns
2 × quadruple .50-inch (12.7 mm) Vickers machine gun AA mounts
6 × .303 Vickers

Armor:
Deck: 1 in (25 mm) (forecastle); 1 in (25 mm) (upper); 4 in (100 mm) (main, slopes); 2 in (51 mm) (main, flat); .75 to 1.5 in (19 to 38 mm) (lower)
Bulkheads: 4 in (100 mm) (fore and aft, box citadel over magazines)
Barbettes: 8 in (200 mm)
Gun Houses: 4.5 to 13 in (110 to 330 mm)
Conning Tower: 6 in (150 mm)
If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday April 30. Of Great Repairs and Shallow Waters: the USS Monadnock

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will
profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday April 30. Of Great Repairs and Shallow Waters: the USS Monadnock

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Here we see the USS Monadnock, (BM-3), sitting in calm waters off the Chinese coast in 1901. Yes, that is really how low a freeboard this ship had.

During the Civil War, the twin turreted ironclad USS Monadnock was built 1863-64 by the Boston Navy yard as a 250-ft, 3300-ton,
Miantonomoh-class monitor. Completed just seven months before the end of the war, she didn’t see much action as soon afterward was sent (very slowly) to the West Coast all the way around South America (as there was no Panama Canal). Arriving there at Vallejo, California and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard where she decommissioned 30 June 1866 due to lack of funds.

The original wooden‑hull, double-turreted, 1863 ironclad monitor USS Monadnock, complete with a Ericsson vibrating lever engine and pair of Civil war standard 15-inch smoothbore Dahlgren guns, circa 1866 in the Mare Island channel. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.

The original wooden‑hull, double-turreted, 1863 ironclad monitor USS Monadnock, complete with a Ericsson vibrating lever engine and pair of Civil war standard 15-inch smoothbore Dahlgren guns, circa 1866 in the Mare Island channel. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L.
Baker.

Well, the fresh young ship was allowed to rot at her moorings and by 1874 was nothing but semi-submerged junk.

Then she was ‘repaired.’

Robeson: When I say repair, I do mean, 'scrap and rebuild from scratch'

Robeson: When I say repair, I do mean, ‘scrap and rebuild from scratch’

You see, then Secretary of the Navy George Robeson knew that the service was a mere specter of its former self by 1874, and war with Spain was looming in one form or another (although did not materialize fully until 1898). With no money for new ships, he set about ‘repairing’ the old monitors  USS Puritan and the four Miantonomoh-class vessels (including Monadnock). Of course, the repairs started with selling the ships along with nine other hulks  to scrappers and using the money to pay four private shipbuilders to make new ones under the old names with a smile and a wink, but hey, you have to get it done somehow, right?

Well the ‘new‘ monitor Monadnock was laid down again right there in Vallejo as her namesake was scrapped and recycled very near her. With money tight even for ‘repairs,’ the ship languished in the new works of one Mr. Phineas Burgess of whose Continental Iron Works had one ship clogging the ways– Monadnock. With checks from the Navy few and far between, the yard closed, some $120,000 in debt. It was then in 1883 that the Navy finally agreed to get the long-building ironclad off the builder’s way and in 1883 she was quietly and without ceremony launched and towed to the Mare Island Naval shipyard– (again) if you go with the premise that the was still the old Monadnock.

The new monitor being fitted out in the historic dry-dock at Mare Island. This dock still exists and may soon house the old cruiser relic (and Dewey's flagship) Olympia.

The new monitor being fitted out in the historic dry-dock at Mare Island. This dock still exists and may soon house the old cruiser relic (and Dewey’s flagship) Olympia.

The new ship and her three sisters were extremely close in size to the ironclad monitors they replaced– some 262-feet long and 3990-tons (due to more armor). The fact that these ships often incorporated re-purposed amenities from the old Civil War monitors proved a further nice touch.

USS Mondanancok 1896 San Fransisco in her gleaming white scheme

USS Mondanancok 1896 San Fransisco in her gleaming white scheme. Click to embiggen

Her teeth were four of the new and very modern for their time 10″/30 (25.4 cm) Mark 2 guns, the same type used on all of her class as well as the follow-on Monterey class monitor M-6) and the famously ill-fated armored cruiser USS Maine (1895). These 25-ton guns, some 27.4-feet long, could fire a 510-pound shell out past 20,000 yards at about 2-3 rounds per minute (although that was with a very well rehearsed crew). With her 14-foot draft, she could stick to the shallows and avoid larger battleships while her guns, capable of penetrating up to 7-inches of steel armor at close range, were thought capable of sinking any smaller ship that could breach those shallows.

Naval cutlass practice under the monitors guns.

Naval cutlass practice under the monitors guns.

Monadnock and her sisters carried some 360 shells for their large guns as well as some 17-tons of  rather smokey ‘brown powder’ propellant charges to fire them. To keep torpedo boats away, the monitor carried a pair of 4-inch breech-loaders as well as numerous small deck guns and machine-guns that changed over time. Even if they did get close, she had up to 11.5-inches of steel armor plate.

In short, she was a fire-breathing turtle.

Finally completed 20 February 1896, after just 22-years of ‘repair’, the Monadnock had a unique set of twin triple expansion steam engines that gave the ship a speed of 11.6-knots, a full knot and change faster than her three sisters. When war broke out with Spain in 1898, she was ordered to reinforce the small squadron of Commodore Dewey in the Far East.

Stern shot of the monitor USS Monadnock off the Mare Island Navy Yard, CA, June 1898, ready for her voyage to the Philippines. The old monitor 800-ton Passaic-class monitor USS Camanche (1864-1899), at the time training ship for the California Naval Militia, is visible beyond Monadnock's after turret.  (Photograph courtesy of the US Navy Historical Center)

Stern shot of the monitor USS Monadnock off the Mare Island Navy Yard, CA, June 1898, ready for her voyage to the Philippines. The old monitor 800-ton Passaic-class monitor USS Camanche (1864-1899), at the time training ship for the California Naval Militia, is visible beyond Monadnock‘s after turret. (Photograph courtesy of the US Navy Historical Center)

Leaving California on 23 June, towed by the new and efficient coaler USS Nero (AC-17), the pair made the journey from Mare Island to Manila Bay in just seven weeks. Her near-sister, the monitor USS Monterey (BM-6), left fully two weeks before her towed by the coaler USS Brutus (AC-15) yet only beat Monadnock/Nero by a single day.

Doesn't that look fun? They probably had a long line of volunteers who would rather have been in the rowboat than the monitor.

Doesn’t that look fun? They probably had a long line of volunteers who would rather have been in the rowboat than the monitor.

Considering the low free-board, row-boat like beam to length ratio, and the fact that monitors were never designed to operate at sea (the original USS Monitor foundered just after her commissioning), the 8000-mile trip was epic. With their cramped and overheated engine-room (in which temperatures measured over 140-degrees on a thermometer suspended from a fishing pole on deck) these ships were miserable for the stokers and water tenders.

crossing

Once in Philippine waters, (Dewey had already captured Manila without Monadnock or Monterery), the two monitor were very busy. Too late to fight the Spanish, they did however, fire their guns in several battles supporting the US troops in hot actions across the wild archipelago including notably the 1899  Battle of Caloocan, where Monadnock was credited largely with transforming that rebel stronghold as “What was once a prosperous town was in a few minutes wiped out of existence.”

Unexploded 10" (25.4 cm) shell fired by USS Monadnock during her service in Philippine waters. Original caption read "Unexploded ten-inch shell after penetrating a six-foot trench and killing three of the enemy" Photograph copyrighted by Perley Fremont Rockett of San Francisco Library of Congress Photograph ID LC-USZ62-118717

Unexploded 10″ (25.4 cm) shell fired by USS Monadnock during her service in Philippine waters. Original caption read “Unexploded ten-inch shell after penetrating a six-foot trench and killing three of the enemy” Photograph copyrighted by Perley Fremont Rockett of San Francisco Library of Congress Photograph ID LC-USZ62-118717

Both Monadnock and Monterey, with the luxury of their low free board and ability to burn crap coal, found themselves often in Chinese waters, patrolling the wild Yangtze all the way to Shanghai. She watched the interned Russian fleet including the damaged cruisers Zhemchug, Aurora, and Oleg in 1905 that only narrowly escaped Adm Togo and made sure that they sat out the rest of the Russo-Japanese war. When the Russian battleship Potemkin erupted in mutiny that summer, the Monadnock and her crew paid extra close attention to prevent the glum sailors of the Tsar, under the unpopular but politically connected Rear-Admiral Oskar Enkvist, from spreading the banner of the Red Flag to Manila harbor.

The three Tsarist protected cruisers, with their 28 rapid fire 4.7 and 6-inch guns, could have smothered the heavily armored Monadnock in medium caliber shells, but each of the American monitor’s 10-inchers could have effected enough of a beating on the very lightly armored Russian ships to have made it a good fight. It should be noted that two of the Russian cruisers were sunk during World War One in very one-sided fights against lesser craft, while the Aurora is preserved as a monument ship in St. Petersburg today.

A French image of her in Chinese waters. Note the extensive canvas awnings and small boats.

A French image of her in Chinese waters. Note the extensive canvas awnings and small boats.

Largely replaced in this role by purpose-built river gunboats in China who needed a much smaller crew, the monitors were taken off of patrol duties by 1912. There Monterey languished and was eventually towed to Pearl Harbor while Monadnock served as a tender for submarines at Cavite harbor until 24 March 1919 when she was decommissioned. There is evidence her hulk was used as a receiving ship of sorts for a few more years until she was struck from the Navy list 2 February 1923, and her hull was sold for scrap on the Asiatic Station, 24 August 1923 at a still young age of just 27.

Seems a waste for a vessel that took 22 years to construct, but then again, she was much more at home in the 1860’s than the 1920’s.

Specs:

plan mondanack

Displacement: 3,990 tons
Length:     262 ft 3 in (79.93 m)
Beam:     55 ft 5 in (16.89 m)
Draft:     14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
Propulsion:     2 × Triple expansion generating 1,600 hp., 2 screws (Monadnock only)
Her sisters had 2 × Compound
Speed:     Monadnock: 11.63 knots, rest of class 10.1
Range:     1,370nm @ 10 kn (19 km/h) with 250-tons coal
Complement: 156 officers and enlisted
Armament:
Four 10 inch (254 mm) breechloading guns
Two 4 inch (100 mm) rapid fire guns
Two 6 pounder (57 mm) rapid fire guns
Two 3 pounder (47 mm) rapid fire guns
Two 37 mm Hocthkiss guns
Seven one pounder gun
One Colt revolving guns
Armor:
Armor belt – 180 mm, iron..
Conning Tower – 190 mm
Chimneys and ventilators – 100 mm to height of .9 m
Deck – 40 mm
Turrets – 292 mm (fixed portion) and 190 mm (movable portion)
Double bottom under boilers and engines.

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