Thursday, May 18, 2006
Go West, Young Monitor!
[Naval Trivia, #1]
The U.S.S. Camanche, Passaic class monitor, was built in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1863. Come November of that same year, she sat on the bottom of San Francisco Bay.
Duel with a Confederate ironclad? Lost in a storm? No, the Camanche—at least the disassembled kit—fared well on the long journey from New Jersey, even rounding Cape Horn, in the hull of the Aquila, without incident. She made it all the way to a dock in San Francisco Bay, before going to the bottom with the Aquila, which sank at her berth for reasons I am still trying to determine.
Whatever the case, the pieces of the well-traveled Camanche were salvaged, and she was assembled and launched in 1864, commissioned in 1865. For a year or so, she was the only U.S. ironclad plying Pacific waters [photo at top: U.S.S. Camanche in 1889, and 1898 below, offshore from Mare Island Navy Yard, where many nuclear submarines were built in the 1960s. U.S. Navy Historical Center].