Sunday, February 5, 2017

Cheese Box on a Raft

"The Monitor and Merrimac: The First Fight Between Ironclads", Louis Prang & Co., Boston (Source)
A comment from yesterday's post mentioned that the USS Zumwalt bore a resemblance to a "cheese box on a raft," which to folks of a certain age means one thing, and one thing only. The USS Monitor depicted on the right in that opening image. (Please note that I didn't name that image, I would have called the warship on the left by it's proper name, the CSS Virginia. But growing up as I did in the North, as a youth I always referred to those two ships as "the Monitor and the Merrimac." Of course, now I know better, but more on that in a bit.)

To me the USS Zumwalt looks more like a cross between the Virginia, with that sloped in hull and deck house, and the Monitor with it's unadorned superstructure and relative lack of any masts.

To refresh your memories, this is USS Zumwalt. (Source)
Shown below are two Arleigh Burke class destroyers presenting a more traditional (less stealthy) aspect.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), left, approaches the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95). Both ships are deployed supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laura A. Moore)
And for those modern folk from non-cheese producing areas of the world, a cheese box is a real thing. It's where one might have kept a wheel of cheese, back in the day. I wonder how many of the audience has ever even seen a wheel of cheese? Ah, the things which make me ponder.

Cheese boxes, I can't say if there's any cheese in 'em. (Source)
To get back to our topic of ships, here's a couple of books I should have picked up a long time ago. I rectified that deficiency this past Saturday instant at my local purveyor of fine reading material, Barnes & Noble.


I saw the book on the left, which reminded me of Skip's comment yesterday referring to "Tin Can Sailors," he was one of those mind you (as were the two oldest of the progeny). I'm familiar with the story and the exceptional bravery shown by those men in their small ships. The book on the right just looks damned good (I had read a review of it some time back) and am familiar, though not in detail, with the fighting in the waters off Guadalcanal. As the same chap wrote both books, they make a nice matching set.

One last historical note on the battle in Hampton Roads between Monitor and Virginia, well let's give you a video instead. It's a pretty good summary and has a very human touch at the end. (Also interesting, perhaps only to me, one of the submarine combat systems I was privileged to work on was for a certain class of submarine, the Virginia class. Proud heritage there methinks.) You can read more about the battle here as well. The video also explains why some folk called the Virginia, the Merrimac. She started life as the latter, went to war as the former.



Quite a story, neh?



38 comments:

  1. Well....I'll be....Two historical books that I've read and you haven't (yet). There may be hope for the historian in me still. I think you'll enjoy them. Tin Can Sailors was VERY hard to put down.

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    1. They've been on the acquisition list for quite some time, finally got around to picking them up.

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    2. Make sure you have a very thick, absorbent towel handy, as you read those books, to soak up the blood that drips off the pages. I have all three of his books, the first two in dead tree editions, Fleet at Full Tide on Kindle.

      She started out as MERRIMACK. I know a former CO of the Oiler USS MERRIMACK, and he is quite insistent on the 'K'.

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  2. I still remember the book report research I did as a school child on these two warships and the milestone battle which ensued. As to the North's Monitor, the design had two metal shutters to cover the gun ports while reloading. However (as is often the case) form and function intercedes, and the crew soon learned that it was just as expedient to rotate the entire turret away from the enemy for the reload rather than waste time on the shutters. Such is life in the heat of battle.

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    1. I had forgotten the shutters, thanks for the reminder.

      The American sailor has always been adaptive!

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  3. You can still get wheels of cheese here in WI.

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  4. Not sure if the Monitor was the first of that type but several navies operated monitors.

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    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monitor_(warship)

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    2. First of her type, but not the last.

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    3. They certainly were odd-looking ships.

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    4. I'm a fan of the WWI-era Lord Clive class monitors. Yes, that's an EIGHTEEN INCH gun.

      (More here.)

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    5. That tripod mast looks very Arizona like.

      Yamato and her sister Musashi both had 9 18.1 inch guns. Very big guns.

      I see that one of the Lord Clive actually fired her guns in action, General Wolfe whose namesake died on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City.

      Funny how so many historical things tie together.

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  5. Re cheese boxes, I worked as a cheese monger a while back, I love cheese boxes.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. A cheese monger? I had no idea we still called them that. I learn something every day.

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  6. Cheese boxes? Maybe for those hats that Packers fans wear, 'cause those are hat boxes!

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    1. At least that's what my wife thinks. She wears a lot of hats.

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    2. Your wife is a "hat person" isn't she?

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    3. She pulls that look off very well!

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  7. If you look at the sloping, ironclad sides of the CSS Virginia, it's clearly stealth technology from the future. Hard to believe they didn't prevail. Damn that Prime Directive!!

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    1. Hahaha!

      (And the Zumwalt's first captain was Jim Kirk. Coincidence?)

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    2. Jim Kirk??? I think I hear Rod Serling calling!

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  8. Interesting little video. And that is a big part of the museum at Hampton Roads!

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  9. The Monitor's guns were, by regulation, under-powered. This resulted in the failure to penetrate the Virginia's armor. (Once again, Navy regs remove the ability to actually fight the enemy.)

    The Virginia was carrying mostly shells and other ammunition that was effective against wooden ships. She was not equipped with ammo for fighting a fort (solid or semi-solid rounds.)

    So the two ships basically spent all their time circling and shooting, mostly ineffectively, at each other.

    It would have been a much shorter and more decisive fight if either or both the combatants had been fighting at full capacity against their opponent.

    Sad that that one fight was the last for both ships, the Monitor to storms and the Virginia destroyed by her own side. Seems the weather and your own people have always been a warship's worst enemy.

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    1. Often the regulations only make sense to the shoe clerks who write them.

      Like the repeating rifles the North didn't want because "they would use too much ammo."

      Weather at sea is no one's friend.

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  10. I remember learning about the Monitor and Merrimack in grade school. I was really surprised to find that the Merrimack had been renamed Virginia. I found this out while I was IN Virginia, when I mentioned the topic -- including the Merrimack name -- around some locals. I quickly found that "them's fightin' words!"

    One of the developments of the monitor concept was the USS Carronade (IFS-1). If you want to see something cool, search up some videos of her firing the spin-stabilized five-inch rocket system in Vietnam.

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  11. Also, I understand that people have been killed when they got in the way of out-of-control wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy. I have seen these wheels, and their boxes, and I suspect it could have happened.

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  12. Just returned from a visit to the Evergreen Air Museum ( in Oregon ) which has many really neat aircraft. It also has a number of Old AF Sergeants hanging around to answer questions from the visitors. As to the "cheese monger", it's easier for me to spell than looking up another word. Lazy I am.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. I belong to that club Paul. Lazy I am.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)