PacSci-Doku: "Civil War Innovation" Answer
By Dennis Schatz - Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs
The question in this edition is:
What changed the future of naval battles?
The answer: Ironclads
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One hundred fifty years ago this month two ships covered with iron plates - call ironclads - met in the middle of Virginia's Hampton Roads harbor in a battle that would change the future of naval warfare. The Confederates outfitted a wooden ship (renamed the Merrimack) with two layers of 2-inch metal plates and 10 weapons. The Union ship, the Monitor, was outfitted with eight layers of one-inch metal plates. It was outgunned with only two canons, but the guns were on a turret that could be rotated like the top of a modern tank. This meant the Monitor did not have to maneuver the entire ship into firing position. It just needed to rotate its turret. The battle went on for four hours, but neither ship could do much damage to its rival, and both ships had mechanical problems. In the end the battle was a draw, but it changed the future of naval battles forever. The age of wooden warships was soon to be over. Learn More
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