August 18, 2007
Eaglespeak posts a superb piece on a really neat and innovative semisubmersible torpedo boat the USN designed during the Civil War.
This is a warship I'd heard about but never gotten details on...the diagram is really neat and explains a lot!
Thank you Eaglespeak!
Note that as far as semisubmuribility, this vessel was actually predated by RSC Naugatuck, also briefely known as the E.A.Stevens. While not exactly stealthy, interservice rivalry absolutely demands that she be mentioned.
Naugatuck (spelling?) was a test rig for the abortive 'Stevens Battery', a large ironclad begun in the 1850's. Due to design changes and navy skepticism, the vessel was under construction for more han a decade, and was never completed.
Naugatuck was intended to test two main features of the larger ship, semi-submuribility and an autoloading mechanism. The vessel could trim down awash to reduce her target and gain a bit of protection. She could also load her gun from a protected barbette below decks and shoot it at enemy targetswith minimal crew exposure.
The vessel was reasonably successful but as it as not intended to be more than a test bed, and because of the flakieness of the builder, the USN (which then had Galena, New Ironsides, and Monitor under construction) did not buy it.
The vessel was purchased by the Revenue Cutter Service, given extemporised armor and pressed into service in the civil war.
The vessel was in action on both revenue, and blockade duties and engaged the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) two days after her more famous engagement with USS Monitor and was in action against Confederate shore batteries at the battle of Dreweys Bluff, where her telescoping parrot rifle exploded. Despite this she handled the enemy fire far better than Galena.
In part because her propulsion plant was COTS and easy to maintain, Naugatuck served in the RCS until 1872.
I believe she was also the first RCS cutter that Michael Healy was assigned to.
Sadly, I have no design specs handy as I'm in Japan and information on the vessel seems sparse.
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