Ironclad USS Monitor

The USS Monitor was the first ironclad to be built and used by the young US Navy. With the naval battle between the Monitor and Confederate Virginia, she was also involved in the first battle between armored ships in history and was involved through their development at the sinking of the wooden ships.


Launching and design:

After the first battleships were put into service in Europe, the Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells in 1861 demanded proposals for armored ships for the US Navy. The Swedish engineer and inventor John Ericsson submitted a draft as a result, which was eventually adopted by the Navy leadership.


Statue von John Ericsson im Battery Park, New York City. In der Hand hält er ein Modell der Monitor

Statue of John Ericsson in Battery Park, New York City. In his hand he holds a model of the monitor


In contrast to European armored ships, the focus of the monitor was placed on the use in shallow waters. In addition, the protruding from the water part should be as low as possible to provide less attack surface. Thus, with the monitor except for a small control station on the bow, a chimney and the turret no superstructures were provided.


USS Monitor

USS Monitor


The ship was built by several companies, each delivering the individual parts to reach the planned production time of 100 days. Overall, the ship was finished after 120 days and had its launch on January 30, 1862.


Geschützturm der USS Monitor

Turret of the USS Monitor


Konstruktionszeichnung der USS Monitor

Engineering drawing of the USS Monitor


Querschnittszeichnung des Schiffsrumpfes der USS Monitor mit Geschützturm

Cross-sectional drawing of the hull of the USS Monitor with turret




History of the USS Monitor:

The only mission drove the monitor at the Battle of Hampton Roads, where it was to defend the wooden ships of the US Navy against the Confederacy-built Virginia, also a battleship. The battle with the Virginia was in a stalemate, as none of the ships could inflict greater damage to the other due to the armor. As the Virginia retreated, the monitor also left the area.


Das Gefecht zwischen der CSS Virginia und der USS Monitor

The battle between CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor




The end of the USS Monitor:

By the end of 1862, the monitor was to be relocated to the Charleston area. Due to its design, the ship was only suitable for calm swell, even small waves washed over the deck. On her crossing this weakness was her fatal, as the waves were too strong and the ship sank on December 31, 1862 at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. 16 sailors were killed.




Ship data:

Ship type Ironclad
Country USA (Northern states)
Launching January 30, 1862
Whereabouts sunk on 31 December 1862 in heavy seas
Plating Oak wood with wrought iron plates
Drive Ericsson balancing steam engine with 320 hp
Length 52 meters
Width 12,6 meters
Draft 2 meters
Mass 987 metric tons
Speed 8 knots
Arming 2 x 279mm Dahlgren smooth tube guns

Pile spur

Crew 59 man






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