Sailing has always attracted explorers, travelers and just brave people. In ancient times it was the only was to travel to distant countries. The history holds the name of many famous people who made great discoveries. But also we remember the ships that became witnesses of their adventures.
Although this ship was only about 70 feet in length and it was rather slow and inconspicuous, we can deny its fame. It was Santa Maria that brought Christopher Columbus to the New World. Columbus was not afraid to go into the unknown, having managed to cross the Atlantic the whole 4 times. Unfortunately, the fragile Santa Maria could not repeat the journey of her captain – she ran aground on Christmas in 1492. Its wood was saved and used for building a new ship, La Navidad, which means “Christmas”, since the crash just happened on that date. The original legendary has disappeared, but since then at least four copies of Santa Maria were built. Unfortunately, none of them were an exact copy, as there are no records about the original design of the ship.
This early prototype of a submarine was actually more dangerous for its own fleet crews than for the adversaries. However, it was this ship that started the revolution in naval engineering, the results of which we use till today. The boat was created by the Confederates in 1863 specifically to sink the ships of the northerners. The boat made only a few passages, during which 13 crew members died, including the creator himself, H.L. Hunley. The prow of the ship had a spar with a lethal charge attached to it. Captain Dixon chose the target – the steam sloop Housatonic. The peak was stuck into the starboard, the submarine reversed, and the trigger cord caused detonation of the charge. As a result of the explosion, Housatonic sank, becoming the first ship in the history wrecked by a submarine. Unfortunately, H.L. Hunley did not return to the dock, sinking for unknown reasons. For 136 years it stayed at the bottom with eight crew members on board. Only 136 years later H.L. Hunley was discovered later in the harbor of Charleston. It was raised in August 2000. The vessel preserved surprisingly well and today it is stored in a special tank of water.
USS “Monitor” and CSS “Virginia” (or “Merrimack”)
The two days long battle between these two ships in 1862 got the name The Battle of Hampton Roads. This battle is considered to be one of the most important in the navy history since it was the first of two ships made of iron. The monitor also was the first ship with a rotating gun turret, influencing the design of the ships for the next century. Virginia, a battleship of Confederation, was built on the basis of the prior sunk frigate “Merrimak”, this explains the confusion with the names. Merrimack was flooded when Norfolk was captured by the Southerners in April 1861. After it had been raised the ship was equipped with massive metal plates. It proved to be not impenetrable for cannon fire and also became a dangerous weapon of the southerners used to sink a pair of traditional wooden ships of the Union the day before the historic battle. Neither “Monitor” nor “Virginia” played a significant role in the war, soon sinking. Virginia was blown up in May 1862, when the Allied forces recaptured Norfolk. The Monitor was lost during the storm at Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1862.
“Mighty Mo”, how it was called by the crew members, was honored to become the ship on which instrument of surrender was signed by Japan proclaiming the end of the Second World War. It happened in the Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. After the IIWW the battleship resumed its activities participating in the Korean War (1950-1953). In 1984 in was reactivated and modernized again in accordance to Ronald Reagan’s plan to build a 600 ship navy. “Missouri” was in service during the first Gulf War in 1991, when the ship launched Tomahawk missiles and 16-inch rounds on targets in Iraq. Today the ship is on an eternal peaceful parking in Pearl Harbor, serving as a museum and military memorial. It is interesting that the mooring site is only a few hundred meters from the place of the battleship Arizona‘s wreck, so you can see the places where the war started and ended for Americans.
The ship took part in the First World War, not doing anything special, and its active participation in the Second World War lasted only 15 minutes. This is how much Japanese bombers needed to sink this battleship. During the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor four heavy air bombs were dropped on Arizona. They pierced several decks and exploded deep inside, where the shells and fuel supplies were located. A horrible shot ripped the battleship to pieces; a tsunami-like wave was formed. As a result 1,177 out of the 1,400 crew members were killed, including the captain and the admiral. Remaining of the ship had been burned a few more days. Arizona was damaged so badly that it no longer made sense to restore it. Today it is a military memorial visited by millions of people annually. Considering the popularity of the ship today it is interesting that not many Americans know about the Arizona’s fate for several years after the war. Military censors held back the fact that the battleship lay forgotten in shallow water for decades after that attack. The memorial was built only in the late 1960s. becoming a symbol of America’s determination and tribute to the fallen.
HMS means “Her Majesty’s ship”. No other ship served better as a symbol of the power that the Royal Navy possessed in the late XVIII and early XIX centuries. After all, Victory is the legendary flagship of Lord Nelson. The ship is one of the largest wooden vessel ever built. She has seen the battles against both the French and the Spanish fleets. “Victory” earned a place in history during the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. On its board Admiral Nelson was mortally wounded, having already defeated the combined fleet of French and Spanish before. This victory made it possible to save England from a military invasion. The next hundred years the ship became a training school for sailors. In 1922, the British government ordered a significant restoration work. Now the ship works as a museum in Portsmouth, which makes Victory one of the oldest ships afloat in the world.