Monitor warship type

From Academic Kids

USS Monitor became the prototype of a form of ship built by several navies for coastal defence in the 1860s and 1870s and known as a monitor. It was a low-freeboard, mastless steam-powered vessel with one or two rotating armoured turrets. The low freeboard meant that these ships were unsuitable for ocean-going duties, but had the advantage that there was less area to cover with armour and the sea washing over the deck in heavy weather would keep the vessel stable.

A more seaworthy variation was called the breastwork monitor, and had the turrets and any superstructure mounted on a raised platform. These were not particularly successful as sea-going ships, because of the short range caused by the low efficiency and poor reliability of the steam engines of the day. The first of these ships was the HMVS Cerberus, built in 1868 to 1870 and which still exists (in rather poor condition) near Melbourne, Australia.

Attempts were made to design variations of these ships which were fully rigged to overcome both the technical and the cultural problems of relying upon a steam engine (naval tradition in the larger navies of the time meant that steam power was looked down upon).

These were mostly unsuccessful because the rigging interfered with the turrets' 360 degree arc of fire and because of problems with the ships' stability caused by the combined weight of turrets and masts above the waterline. However, the monitor did eventually evolve into the battleship.

The monitor as a class of warship reappeared in a rather different form during the First World War as a flat bottomed sea-going barge equipped with battleship-sized guns and intended solely for bombardment of the enemy coast. They were extremely slow, and could not be used for combat in the high seas. One example of this type of monitor is the Royal Navy Monitor M33. Several of these ships were still in existence, and a few more were built, to play a part in the Second World War.

There was also a class of river monitors — the strongest dedicated river warships.

A late example of a monitor-type ship is the Huáscar, a Peruvian Navy ship that was the vessel commanded by Admiral Miguel Grau during the war between Peru and Chile (War of the Pacific, as it is known in those countries) in 1879. After a long series of battles, the Huáscar was captured by the Chilean Navy at the Battle of Punta Angamos, October 8, 1879, during which most of the crew of the Huáscar died, including Admiral Grau. The captured ship, where in May of that year Captain Arturo Prat of the Chilean Navy died after a unequal battle between the Huáscar and the wooden sailing ship Esmeralda, was then commissioned into the Chilean Navy, and is currently at dock in Talcahuano, still a commissioned vessel with crew and commanding officer. It is available for visits.

Just three months after the famous Battle of Hampton Roads, the design was offered to Sweden, and in 1865 the first Swedish monitor was being built at Motala Warf in Norrköping; she was named John Ericsson in Honor of the engineer. She was followed by 14 more monitors. One of them, Kanonbĺten Sölve, served until 1922 and is today preserved at the marine museum in Gothenburg.

The last U.S. Navy monitor-class warship was struck from the Navy List in 1937.

See Also

List of monitors of the Royal Navyde:Monitor (Schiff) pl:Monitor (okręt)


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