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Crimean War All aspects of the war in the Crimea

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Old 06-02-2008, 13:32
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Commodore Armiger Commodore Armiger is offline
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Default Floating Batteries: A Dead-End in Ship Design

Floating Batteries are most singular and striking in appearance, and by no means prepossessing. They looked very like dumb barges of uncommon strength, and had their tall spars lugger-rigged ; but that they were very black, and showed a broadside of guns of the heaviest calibre, we should certainly have taken them for beacon ships. These, however, were the floating batteries. Than their appearance nothing can be conceived more uncouth and massive looking, or more indicative of unwieldy ponderous strength. Their massive wrought-iron sides, huge round bows and stern, and, above all, their close rows of solid 68 and 84-pounder .guns, show them at once to be antagonists under the attacks of which the heaviest granite bastions in the world would crumble down like contract brick-work. Each of the tremendous floating batteries carries 14 68-pounders, and is sheathed, from the bulwarks to three feet below the water line, with massive plates of wrought iron, 14 feet 6 inches in length, 20 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Each of these plates are bolted to the timber sides of the vessel with 40 screw nuts. When French floating batteries of the same construction were used in the combined attack on the fortress of Kinburn; one vessel was struck 58 times in the hull. But she stood this most severe ordeal without sustaining the least possible injury, except that wherever she was hit her wrought-iron plates were dented to depths varying from 1 inch to of an inch. But in spite of these apparently strong recommendations for vessels in a time of warfare, the floating batteries are not precisely the class of vessels we should prefer to serve in on active service. Their name of floating batteries is almost a misnomer. With their depth in the water, and ominous heavy roll at the least swell, they seem inclined to be anything but floating, and loth would we be to encounter a Baltic gale or a black Sea hurricane in one of these gaunt wrought-iron shells, which in such a case would be far more formidable to their occupants than to the enemy.
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