Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Launching the Age of Iron

On this day in 1862, the first turreted warship made of iron, the USS Monitor was launched. With her launch, the existing navies of the world were instantly made obsolete, and a new age began that eventually saw the introduction of ships such as HMS Dreadnaught, IJN Yamato and finally USS Missouri and her Iowa-class sisters, the last battleships.

The Monitor not only introduced the turret as opposed to the broadside gun mountings of previous warships, but her iron skin made her virtually impervious to gunfire from ships of that day and age. However, she was not a perfect warship. Her main defect was her low freeboard, which would eventually cause her loss in a storm off Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1862.

Her engine and part of her hull were recovered in 2000, and her turret was recovered in 2002. These artifacts are now preserved in the USS Monitor Center, part of the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virigina.

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