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SCUBA My World
Slobodna "Mast Wreck"
Slobodna "Winch Hole"
Battle of Ironclads
Coral Reef Depletion
Battle of Ironclads
1733 San Pedro
Spanish Fleet Statistics
Slobodna Site Report
Oct 25 1861
Feb 25 1862
987 tons displacement; 776 tons burden
179' overall X 41'6" X 10'6", or 172' X 41' 6" X 8' 4"
1 screw, 2 Ericsson vibrating-lever engines (36" X 2'2''); Double-trunk cylinders with two-in-one casting, plus two large return box boilers. Indicated horsepower 320 = 9 knots
2 - 11" smoothbore guns
8" turret, 4.5" sides, 2" deck, 9" pilothouse
Hits from Virginia:
JUN 14 1855
Feb 17 1862
3,200 tons burden, 4636 tons (as originally built
263' between foreside of stem and aft side of rudder post 51' 4" X 22' or 275' X 38' 6" X 22'
1 screw, 2 horizontal back-acting engines (72" X 3'), 4 boilers; indicated horsepower 1,200 = 9 knots
2 - 7" muzzle-loading rifle pivots, 2 - 6"/32 muzzle-loading rifle pivots, 6 - 9" smooth bore Dalgren's in broadside, 2 - 12 powder howitzers
2" iron plus 24" wood
9 knots. 40 minutes = 180 degree turn
Hits from Monitor:
Battle of Ironclads
The battle of the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Merrimack was one of the most revolutionary naval battles in history. They were the first Ironclad ships to rage war in maritime history. Never again would wooden vessels be used in war.
At the beginning of the civil war union forces abandoned the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia. The onset of war between the States forced the union to abandon the shipyard. The Union evacuated and destroyed what was not taken from the Naval Yards to prevent the Confederate Navy from using items from the yards against them on April 20th, 1861. When the navy abandoned the shipyards the U.S.S. Merrimack, a new type of ship assembled by metal was left due to constant and severe problems. The vessel was in no condition to leave the yards due to engine problems which were not being repaired for fear of provoking Virginia into secession. The unionï¿½s destruction to the naval yards only did minimal damage, as a result only the decks of many ships were damage by fires, including the Merrimack. Ships sunk into shallow waters enabling the Confederate military to rebuild much of the damage and build upon their navy.
Until the Union Navy abandoned the Norfolk Naval Yard the C.S.S. Merrimack was a Union frigate throughout most of its military existence. The ship was subsequently raised by the Confederates, refitted as an Ironclad and named the C.S.S. Virginia. Secretary Stephen R. Mallory of the Confederate Navy realized that the Confederacy being out-gunned by the Union had only one chance for their navy to survive, build a war machine of iron. The Confederates raised the U.S.S. Merrimack from the Navy shipyard and began employing modifications to it. Engineers cut the hull down to the water line and built a slanted top made of wood and bolted four layers of iron sheets, each two inches thick, to the entire structure of the ship and a large battering ram was also added. It was fitted with ten twelve-pound cannons, four guns placed on the starboard and port sides of the ship and one on both the bow and stern sides. The ship became a massive piece of metal that reached from the water line twenty-two feet to the bottom.
During the outset of the war, the union was being regularly informed by spies of the Confederacyï¿½s plans to make an Ironclad vessel. Swedish-American engineer John Ericsson was contracted to construct a Union Ironclad named the Monitor to counter this threat the Union. The ship was considered to be small for a warship, being only 172 feet long and having a 42 foot beam. It had a flat deck with a large turret, two eleven-inch cannons, and a two-inch thick layer of steel that shielded the entire ship as well. The deck was one foot above the waterline, so low that waves frequently washed over the deck causing the ship to loose its balance. The low profile would effectively out the entire crew below the waterline, so if one armor piercing shells should hit, the whole crew would be killed, by drowning. This low profile had its advantage however; it made it a very difficult target to hit.
Both ships endured design flaws that would be there succumbing to the water. The Virginiaï¿½s weight ratio had been grievously mistaken. The decks of the ship were several feet to high from the water line and had to be corrected for to prevent the ship from tipping. This was done by adding several tons of pig iron added to its storage deck rooms. This however only lessoned the problem never alleviating the danger of ship area exposure to the attacker. The Confederate Navy was not of a maritime society and took a great deal of time training its military. The Union was having difficulties at the approximate time as well with their ship. After the construction was completed the Monitor the ship was immediately turned over to the Union Navy on February 19, 1862. Once reaching the Brooklyn Naval Yard numerous problems began to develop. The steering mechanism was not well designed and had to be retrofitted to adjust to the weight and dynamics of the ships turning.
On March 8th, a day of perfect sea conditions and weather the Virginia steamed her way out of Norfolk and toward a fleet of Union ships. On her voyage she encountered the Cumberland. She briskly began firing at the ship while the Cumberlandï¿½s shells only bounced off of the mighty ships iron hull. The Virginia later set a ramming course toward the crippled ship and hit it with such force sinking it minutes later. She next aimed her ferocious capabilities at the Congress firing her guns and within moments the ship catching fire and much of her crew killed by the exploding magazines on deck and below. As nightfall came and the destruction had ceased, the Virginia retired to anchor herself at Sewellï¿½s Point. Just as the Virginia retired for the night the Monitor showed up. The Monitor crew had brought themselves into a scene of floating bodies from the sunken Cumberland and the Congress on fire with large explosions on her deck.
The following morning at about 9 a.m. the Virginia and Monitor steamed out to begin a historic duel. The Monitor first struck firing on the Virginia with shells. The Monitor had the advantage of being small and very maneuverable thus making it extremely difficult for the Virginia to counter. The Monitor attempted to ram the Virginias stern to render her steer less but had steering problems and missed the large vessel only by feet. As she went steamed pass the vessel, the Monitor headed toward shallow water. The Virginias deep draft prevented her from following and thought that the Monitor had retreated. The ships captain decided to return to Norfolk before low tide came in and declared victory for his crew. Just as the Virginia steamed off, the Monitor began to head for the Virginia to finish the fight. The Monitors crew saw the Virginia leaving and also thought that they had scared off the Confederates and declared themselves the victors of the fight.
Both suffered many casualties of war and severe damage. The Union lost 409 sailors and the Confederate 24 sailors. Both ships retired into history as the first ship to be built of metal to win a victory of war. The success of the ships on that day caused every navy in the world to cease the building of wooden ships. The battle of Ironclads had changed history in a matter of four hours.
Throughout the next two months the Ironclads exercised complete control in Hampton Roads. Both ships sought to capture each other but resulted only in threats. In May the Union land forces advanced to Norfolk to reclaim their lost Naval Yard. The Virginia was ordered to steam her way up the Jamestown River to Richmond to aid in the resistance of the advancement of Union troops. The ship was lightened of her ballast to prevent grounding and halfway to her destination the ship grounded and all attempts of the captain and crew to free her failed. The captain scuttled the ship on May 10, 1862 setting fire to her and retreating with the rest of the Confederate Army. The Monitor being the only iron ship at the time was now seen as an unnecessary defense expense in the Hampton Roads region and returned to Washington D.C. to be given a heroes welcome. On December 29th, 1862 the Monitor was ordered to proceed to North Carolina to assist in the Union Blockade. On the second night out to sea the ship encountered a severe storm that tossed the ship furiously up and down causing her to take on water from the damaged endured by the battle with the Virginia. The crew desperately attempted to evacuate the water from ships hull but all attempts failed. At about 1 a.m. on December 31st, 1862 the Monitors deck lights disappeared under a blanket of dark ocean. Sixteen crewmembers lost their lives and thus perished two of the greatest ships of the Civil War.
For over a century the Monitor lay undiscovered until scientist aboard a Duke University research vessel Eastward had located the Monitor using side scan sonar on August of 1973. Because of the Monitors unique historical and archeological significance the Secretary of Commerce designated the Monitor as this nationï¿½s first Marine sanctuary as a resource of national significance on January 31st, 1975.
The Monitor now lies on the sandy ocean bottom sixteen miles off Cape Hatteras at a depth of 240 feet. The hull lies upside down on top of its displaced gun turret. Since the discovery in 1973 a significant portion of the hull has deteriorated and has increased in the past several years. Several steps have been implemented to stabilize the heavy portions of the ship in the hope to relieve strain on the hull by the supported gun turret. The propeller of the ship was recovered in 1998 by the Navy and is now on display at the Marinerï¿½s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. The Navy installed grout-filled bags under the overhanging hull near the turret to support portions of the hull continually hang lower as time passes and the engine was removed in 2000. Conservation and preservation plans have been designed to protect and preserve the historical site marking an important period in our history.
In 1994 divers for the first time were allowed to visit the Monitor for non-research purposes. Diving on the ship is especially technical because of its extreme depth of 240 feet. Divers use Tri-Mix gasses composed of oxygen (18%), helium (50%), and nitrogen (32%) and spend up to 90 minutes decompressing following a dive for no more than 20 to 25 minutes.
Although the wooden ship has proved to be very resourceful and effective in naval battles throughout history, the advent of the Ironclad revolutionized the way in which naval forces throughout the world conduct battles at sea.
From the moment the two ships opened fire that Sunday morning, every other navy on the Earth was obsolete.