Passaic-class monitor

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Monitor "Lehigh", James River - NARA - 525059.jpg
USS Lehigh on the James River
Class overview
Preceded by: USS Monitor
Succeeded by: Canonicus class
In commission: 25 November 1862 – 1899
Completed: 10
Lost: 2
General characteristics
Type: Monitor
Displacement: 1,335  tons
Tons burthen: 844 (bm) [1]
Length: 200 ft (61 m) overall
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Draught: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Propulsion: 2 Martin boilers, 1-shaft Ericsson vibrating lever engine, 320 ihp (240 kW)
Speed: 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph)
Complement: 75
  • 1 × 15  in (381  mm) smoothbore
  • 1 × 11  in (279  mm) smoothbore
  • Lehigh, Patapsco:
  • 1 × 15  in (381  mm) smoothbore
  • 1 × 8  in (203  mm) Parrott rifle
  • Camanche:
  • 2 × 15  in (381  mm) smoothbore
  • Iron
  • Side: 5 – 3  in (12.7 – 7.6  cm)
  • Turret: 11  in (27.9  cm)
  • Deck: 1  in (2.5  cm)

The Passaic-class ironclad monitors of the U.S. Navy saw service in the U.S. Civil War and the Spanish–American War. This highly successful class was an improved version of USS Monitor equipped with a XV-inch Dahlgren gun in place of one of the XI-inchers.[2]


Naval architect and engineer John Ericsson designed the Passaic-class warships, drawing upon lessons learned from the first USS Monitor, which he also designed. The Passaic monitors were larger than the original Monitor and had their pilothouses atop the turret, rather than near the bow. This allowed a wider field of view and easier communications between captain, pilot and crew. The shape of the hull was an improvement with a less pronounced overhang than Monitor. The Passaic class featured an 18 ft (5.5 m) funnel and improved ventilation.

Having observed the new 15-inch Rodman cannon in fortifications and disappointed with the performance of the XI-inch Dahlgren versus CSS Virginia, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox required the new monitors to be equipped with at least one gun of 15-inch caliber, resulting in rush production of a new XV-inch Dahlgren.[3][4] The turret was 21 ft (6.4 m) in diameter inside with the 15 in (380 mm) gun mounted flush because the muzzle diameter was too large for the turret opening. The large volume of propellant gases released inside the turret required the addition of a "smoke box" at the muzzle in the interior of the turret.[5] As a result, the 15 in gunners could not see their targets and had to aim with the 8 in (200 mm) or 11 in (280 mm) guns. Lehigh had her 11-inch smoothbore replaced with an 8-inch Parrot. Passaic also had this modification by July 1863, and, eventually, all surviving members of this class had an additional 15 inch smoothbore added.

Later improvements included an additional 50 tons of deck plating over the magazines and machinery spaces as well as rings fitted around the turret and pilot houses.

USS Lehigh and USS Montauk in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, circa 1902.

Ships in class[edit]

Warships of Passaic class included:

The first ship of the class was named for the town of Passaic, New Jersey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Silverstone, p. 5
  2. ^ Silverstone, p. 5
  3. ^ Tucker, Arming the Fleet pp. 218–220
  4. ^ Olmstead, The Big Guns, p. 91
  5. ^ Olmstead, The Big Guns, p. 94


  • Canney, Donald L. (1993). The Old Steam Navy: The Ironclads, 1842–1885. 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-586-8. 
  • Gibbons, Tony (1989). Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War. New York: Gallery Books. ISBN 0-8317-9301-5. 
  • Olmstead, Edwin; Stark, Wayne E.; Tucker, Spencer C. (1997). The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast, and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, New York: Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-88855-012-X. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). Civil War Navies 1855–1883. The U.S. Navy Warship Series. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97870-X. 
  • Tucker, Spencer C. (1989). Arming the Fleet: U.S. Naval Ordnance in the Muzzle-Loading Era. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-007-6.