AER: Ironclad


Personal Log: Ironclad

I have had a personal interest in monitors for years, alas, the information on them is noticably lacking.

There are three monitors extant of which I am aware that one may visit. Alas, they are all in foreign countries. There is a "decapped" monitor floating on an italien river as a restaurant. HMVS Cerberus is a reef/hulk recently made off limits to divers. Huascar is a museum ship (restored) in South America. All three of these were built in the United Kingdom thus prejuducing the sample. Limey or not, I'm not likely to see any of these.
Spending the night upon the Battleship Texas does not count. Although monitors and battleships are both turreted, battleships did *not* descend from monitors. They had parallel evolutionary tracks from two different starts. The last U.S. monitors built were ocean going vessels designed as battleship killers.

BM-1 USS Arkansas, Arkansas class monitor
Battleship Killer

Imagine my surprise when I found a foreign warship at a museum within striking distance. Alas, it was not a monitor.

However, it was an ironclad gunboat of the same era. It also happens to have the dubious honor of being the first ship ever sunk by electrically detonated torpedoes ("mines" in today's terminology).

This weekend, Ripar of the IKV Bayou Serpent and myself made a trip to Vicksburg (MS) to examine and holograph the primitive ironclad gunboat named U.S.S. Cairo. It was one of 7 "City" class ironclad gunboats that the Aggressors built specifically to control the Mississippi river. It operated for less than a year before being sunk by a then state of the art mine. When I was 2, the local Authorities started recovery efforts. At 47, I finally get to see this piece of history as a raid along with Ripar as a uniformed raid.

Class B uniforms. It was July, Northern Hemisphere, South, Earth.

It was truly amazing to imagine putting 175 crew on this boat. It was large, but it did not seem that large.

The gapping hole from the mine is still quite evident. The reconstructions (ghosting) of rotted and missing areas is spooky. All of the guns are accounted for and in place. The deck howitzer was apparently removed before the incident. The gun carriages are modern remakes as the originals are in the museum and storage to protect them.

This ship went down too fast to gather things, but slowly enough that all survived. This left a petark-load of artifacts including soda bottles and war equipment.
The museum was as fascinating as the ship itself with the artifacts that survived the sinking.

I thank Ripar and his parmachi for joining Errol and myself in this experience.

U.S.S. Cairo, port forequarter

Kraft und Ehre,
Frigattenkapitaen Salek, Sutai
militaerische Historiker

Not klingon, but here for those interested, this links to a page of 66 large (1024*768) pictures of the U.S.S. Cairo. This is one monolithic page with no thumbnails. Understand that it will take a long time to load.

Commander Ripar, IKV Bayou Serpent

July 25,2009 Ri'Par and Kiral of the IKV Bayou Serpent and Salek and son of the IKV Melota descended on the USS Cairo in Vicksburg,MS. Due to July heat and a lot of walking in the sun,class B uniforms were worn. The USS Cairo is the last ironclad ship in the world and has the "honor" of being the first ship ever sunk by an electric mine. It was in service just under a year before being sunk by the Confederacy in the Yazoo river just north of Vicksburg and was recovered 102 years later in 1964. The condition of the ship is sad.
It was raised by volunteers with less than advanced methods. It then sat for about 18 years, being put back together in south Louisiana while being pounded by salt water, hurricanes, carpenter bees, and anything else mother nature saw fit to throw at it. The wood is severely rotted and parts have been "ghosted" with new wood to show missing parts of the ship. The iron portions and cannons are still in decent condition though.
The ship is in a military park that holds even more to see. The ship museum holds artifacts brought up from the boat with some of the officers dinnerware looking brand new. There is a 16 mile tour that takes you along the lines of battle of both the north and south with many monuments, cannons, and even one house that is the sole survivor of the battle. The cemetary covers many acres of real estate alone. Vicksburg was known as the Gibraltar of the Mississippi and it took Grant 6 weeks of constant bombardment after cutting off supply lines to take the city.

It was also a real honor to get to hang out with Salek of the Melota without having to put on a production like Venom Wars or the Melota bat'leth tournament. We took our time and enjoyed the park.

It was an honor as always.

Cmdr Ri'Par sutai-bortaS
IKV Bayou Serpent CO
Cold Terror Fleet XO


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