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"The Ram: A 19th Century Naval Warfare Dead End" Topic


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American Civil War
19th Century
World War One

557 hits since 15 Jun 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2019 3:46 p.m. PST

"The following is part of Dead Ends Week at CIMSEC, where we pick apart past experiments and initiatives in the hopes of learning something from those that just didn't quite pan out. See the rest of the posts here.

Most naval enthusiasts are familiar with the groundbreaking 19th century warship innovations that have influenced warship design down to the present day. The revolving turret, the iron and later steel hull, armor plate, the mine and the self-propelled torpedo and steam propulsion are all familiar signposts on the way to the fleets of the 20th and 21st century. One such innovation (or retrograde feature) in warship design did not survive to see duty beyond the first four years of the 20th century despite being a prominent feature on every major capital warship from the 1860's to 1904. The Ram bow was once considered more lethal in ship-killing than either the gun or the nascent torpedo and mine. Thanks to its accidental success in the American Civil War and in the 1866 battle of Lissa between Austrian and Italian fleets, the ram acquired a fearsome reputation not seen since ancient times. Despite it supposed potential, the ram claimed many more victims in peacetime accident than it did in war. The British, French, and even the American navies built expensive rams that wasted valuable resources and never saw combat…"
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EJNashIII27 Sep 2019 10:19 p.m. PST

Most warships fit the category of "wasted resources that never saw combat". link

Pyrate Captain28 Sep 2019 5:27 p.m. PST

To: EJNashill

Tell that to the admiralty of Spain, France, Japan, Germany, Argentina and other nations that lost capitol ships and a war to sea power.

The Iranian Navy may soon be added to the list, if you want to call a collection of go-fast boats and midget submarines a navy.

The world has been controlled by sea-power for more than 400 years. This isn't likely to change.

And notice please, the USS Constitution is still in commission. A vessel leaving commission for a more modern vessel is hardly a testament to the "wasted resources" of sea power.

Heck, all that and I was an airman.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2019 5:25 a.m. PST

Most warships fit the category of "wasted resources that never saw combat"

It's worse than that:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . . This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 16, 1953,

FloatingDoc30 Sep 2019 7:20 a.m. PST

We all lament the necessity of maintaining armed forces. Pres. Eisenhower knew better than most the expense and commitment of national treasure involved. However, he also understood history and had before him the recent example of the terrible cost to nations for being unprepared when military action was required. This expenditure on "waste" also purchases the unquantifiable benefit of security in the deterrence of war and an incomparable responsiveness in times of need and disaster. Human experience has more than demonstrated the wisdom and necessity of working for peace while being prepared for war…cost what it may.

Happy Wanderer06 Oct 2019 3:03 p.m. PST

….well said FloatingDoc ;-)

foxbat07 Oct 2019 6:22 a.m. PST

Let's just say that you need to spend but the barest minimum amount to cover the needs of defence, an amount determined by a healthy reflexion on te threats, allies and likely technologies in case of a coming war…

@Pyrate Captain
Well, while I agree with you on Iran – though as has been shown by Millenium Challenge 2002, the cost of victory might be higher than anticipated – I have serious issues regarding the navies' capabilities to assert sea control. Nelson once said "A ship's a fool to fight a fort", essentially meaning that a ship that comes within range of land based firepower is in jeopardy. Right now, the Chinese PLA is estimated to be in possession of some 60 Dong Feng 21 anti-ship ballistic missiles – the DF 21 is dubbed the "carrier killer"- with a range equivalent to, or in excess of, that of carrier based aviation. I have no certainty about their capability of hitting a CVBG, mind you, but I am in doubt. And I am somewhat concerned by the ballooning costs of the Ford Class CVNs and the F 35 supposed to equip them, while I guess the anti ship missiles will be considerably cheaper.

4th Cuirassier10 Oct 2019 2:17 a.m. PST

The ram worked fairly well against invaders from Mars, although at some cost to the ramming ship.

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