The USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship built by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. It was launched on January 30, 1862, from the Continental Iron Works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. The design of the ship was revolutionary, as it featured an iron-clad rotating gun turret, which protected the crew and guns from enemy fire. The Monitor’s design was based on the plans of John Ericsson, a Swedish-born inventor and engineer.
The Monitor’s launch was met with great excitement and anticipation, as it represented a significant advancement in naval technology. Prior to the launch of the Monitor, wooden ships were the norm for naval warfare, and they were vulnerable to enemy fire. The Monitor’s iron-clad design was intended to provide greater protection for the crew and the ship’s guns.
The Monitor’s first major engagement was the Battle of Hampton Roads, fought on March 9, 1862, against the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. The battle was a draw, but it marked the first time ironclad ships had engaged in battle and it proved that the era of wooden ships was over. The Monitor’s design was soon copied by other navies around the world, and ironclad ships became the standard for naval warfare.
The Monitor served for just over a year, and on December 31, 1862, it sank in a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with the loss of 16 crew members. The ship’s legacy, however, lived on, as it had proven the potential of ironclad ships and had a significant impact on the future of naval warfare.