Laird Rams in the Mersey


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FourLeafClover

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#2
That is a great picture Andy. You have a talent for displaying some great finds for our pleasure.
When I enlarge the scene, El Tousson, far left. Has what looks like some kind of buzz saw contraption hinged to the bow. Would this be correct ? Or am I getting all robotwars reminiscent?

It would make great sense for inflicting extreme damage after ramming. Or perhaps for cutting free of a damaged hull.
 

AndyHall

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#3
When I enlarge the scene, El Tousson, far left. Has what looks like some kind of buzz saw contraption hinged to the bow. Would this be correct ? Or am I getting all robotwars reminiscent?
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This? Just the anchor chain.

Traveller's tip: February is not the best time of year to sight-see on the Mersey:

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diane

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#4
Thanks for posting this up, Andy! It's a good story, too.

They were supposed to be the CSS Mississippi and the CSS North Carolina, and they would have been a much needed acquisition for the Confederate navy. Thanks to his indefatigable intelligence work, Thomas Dudley was able to provide sufficient proof that the Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead aimed to deliver these ships to the South, and Ambassador Charles Adams did some remarkable diplomatic ballet to stop the delivery. It basically came down to 'of course you know this means war' and a tired response of 'Yes, I suppose it does'. No go. As mentioned in your article, they were renamed Scorpion and Wyvern, and these unexpected acquisitions turned out to be a good deal for the Brits. They didn't lose money on them! The Wyvern was finally scrapped in 1922.

James Bulloch, however, pounded his head on his desk. He and Mallory and all their people had schemed and finagled for years to get those rams.

The Laird Shipyard, by the way, produced the CSS Alabama - probably the most legendary of all the Confederate privateers. It was a pretty cool action when Bulloch himself slid her out of port, with Dudley breathing right down his neck!
 

AndyHall

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#6
Laird built Denbigh, too, along with the runners Wren and Lark. Although Alabama was of composite construction (timber over an iron frame), in the 1860s Laird was the probably the most experienced yard in the world when it came to building iron-hulled ships.

TimorieBright.jpg

Drawing by Jean-Pierre Bouvet, via VernianEra.com.

In Verne's novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, that was published in that same decade, he has Nemo explain to Professor Aronnax that he'd obtained all of Nautilus' components from the leading engineering concerns around the globe -- including the boat's hull plates from Laird's.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#7
It's not too obvious in the original picture, but HMS Majestic was interesting herself. Although we associate ships-of-the-line with the age of sail, there was a transition period... Majestic and her sisters were auxiliary steamships, and not bad ones either; some of the "liners" could make from 12 to 13.5 knots under steam. Both Britain and France experimented with converting sailing ships-of-the-line as well as new construction; but after the building of La Gloire in 1859, both began to concentrate on ironclads.
 

AndyHall

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#8
It's not too obvious in the original picture, but HMS Majestic was interesting herself. Although we associate ships-of-the-line with the age of sail, there was a transition period... Majestic and her sisters were auxiliary steamships, and not bad ones either; some of the "liners" could make from 12 to 13.5 knots under steam. Both Britain and France experimented with converting sailing ships-of-the-line as well as new construction; but after the building of La Gloire in 1859, both began to concentrate on ironclads.
Lambert had a pretty useful book on that very thing. Unfortunately I let my copy go.
 
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#10
Thanks for posting this up, Andy! It's a good story, too.

They were supposed to be the C.S.S. Mississippi and the C.S.S. North Carolina, and they would have been a much needed acquisition for the Confederate navy. Thanks to his indefatigable intelligence work, Thomas Dudley was able to provide sufficient proof that the Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead aimed to deliver these ships to the South, and Ambassador Charles Adams did some remarkable diplomatic ballet to stop the delivery. It basically came down to 'of course you know this means war' and a tired response of 'Yes, I suppose it does'. No go. As mentioned in your article, they were renamed Scorpion and Wyvern, and these unexpected acquisitions turned out to be a good deal for the Brits. They didn't lose money on them! The Wyvern was finally scrapped in 1922.

James Bulloch, however, pounded his head on his desk. He and Mallory and all their people had schemed and finagled for years to get those rams.

The Laird Shipyard, by the way, produced the C.S.S. Alabama - probably the most legendary of all the Confederate privateers. It was a pretty cool action when Bulloch himself slid her out of port, with Dudley breathing right down his neck!
For additional information concerning the escape of the C.S.S. Alabama from Liverpool might I suggest Admrial Semmes's
war memoir Memoirs of Service Afloat . The C.S.S. Sumter and Alabama are covered. Semmes wrote it 1867-68.
 
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#11
ILNv43p552.jpg

Her Majesty's Ship Majestic Keeping Watch Over the Steam-Rams in the Mersey. El Tousson. The Majestic. El Monassir. From the Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1233, p. 552. November 28, 1863. Details on these unusual ships here.
Andy, take a good squint at the second ram. The nearest vessel appears to have been completely fitted out, but the second ram has no masts or funnel showing. If it was my job to keep any eye on these ships and prevent them from doing a flit, I think I'd put my main effort on the finished ram.
 

AndyHall

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#12
Andy, take a good squint at the second ram. The nearest vessel appears to have been completely fitted out, but the second ram has no masts or funnel showing. If it was my job to keep any eye on these ships and prevent them from doing a flit, I think I'd put my main effort on the finished ram.
The two were launched less than two months apart in the summer of 1863.
 

rebelatsea

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#13
It's not too obvious in the original picture, but HMS Majestic was interesting herself. Although we associate ships-of-the-line with the age of sail, there was a transition period... Majestic and her sisters were auxiliary steamships, and not bad ones either; some of the "liners" could make from 12 to 13.5 knots under steam. Both Britain and France experimented with converting sailing ships-of-the-line as well as new construction; but after the building of La Gloire in 1859, both began to concentrate on ironclads.
What the lithograph doesn't show and is not generally known, is that Majestic was very nearly lost on her way to Liverpool.
She ran into one of the worst storms experienced in the Irish sea virtually broadside, and consequently spent most of he time in the Mersey being repaired. I seriously doubt that she could have stopped El Tousson from leaving, the other one not being in a fit state to leave anyway.
 

AndyHall

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#15
Great image, entirely new to me. Conway's indicates some of these changes made to Wivern, reduced rig and introduction of a flying bridge between forecastle and poop -- you'd really have to have that with the low freeboard amidships. ("Man overboard!" "Really? That's the third one this watch.") Was additional armor added around the base of the funnel on the main deck?
 
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rebelatsea

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#17
I found this photo of the HMS Scorpion today. I haven't seen it before.

View attachment 95177
I've not seen that before either. It's very late in her career, and she doesn't appear to be in commission ( no white ensign). She is obviously cleared for action, no deck clutter vents etc. I wonder if she is on trials in dockyard hands before being sent to the West Indies.
 
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#20
Found a weird one. Today guys.
Reading a letter from bullocks to Mallory (July 1 1862) ...have contracted for 3armored ships, the first to be ready in March, the second 2months later......

Later in Dec 1862, bullock reports.....reducing 2 fixed turrets from 3.......

Then...further down.....
I have determined not to contract ......for a 3rd varmored vessel , although Messrs, Fraser, Trenton + co. Still hold to their officer....bullock .."not agree with style of ship...+ novel arrangement...
You usually only hear about the 1st two...nothing about the third???

Grizz
 

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