150 years ago today, the Union Navy launched the USS Monitor—its first ironclad—from the Continental Iron Works, at Greenpoint in Long Island, New York. Construction of the Monitor began in the fall of 1861 and Swedish engineer John Ericsson was responsible for her conception and design: a relatively shallow-draft iron hull, an armored raft that provided good protection against ramming and cannon fire, a thickly-armored and rotating round turret that supported two 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbore shell guns, a small freeboard suited for inshore fighting, modest engine power, and a noticeable void of masts and sails. After her launch on January 30th, she was outfitted, commissioned on February 25th—under the command of Lieutenant John L. Worden—and put to water on March 6th. Two days later she would test her mettle at the famed Battle of Hampton Roads.
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