River monitor

River monitors are military craft designed to patrol rivers.

They are normally the largest of all riverine warships in river flotillas, and mount the heaviest weapons. The name originated from the US Navy's USS Monitor, which made her first appearance in the American Civil War, and being distinguished by the use of revolving gun turrets.

On 18 December 1965, the US Navy, for the second time in one hundred years, authorized the reactivation of a brown-water navy for riparian operations in South Vietnam. In July 1966, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara authorized the formation of a Mobile Riverine Force (MRF);[1] a force that would bring back the heavily armored single-turret river monitor.

River monitors were used on inland waterways such as rivers, estuaries, deltas and lakes. Usually they had a shallow draft which was necessary for them to be able to operate in enclosed waters; but their displacement, size and draft varied depending on where they were used.

Most river monitors were lightly armored although this varied, with some carrying more armor. Exceptional examples, however, most notably the Royal Navy's Lord Clive-class monitors, which could operate in coastal or certain riparian/estuarine situations, bore extra-thick armor plating and heavy shore-bombardment guns, up to a massive 18 inches (457 mm) in size. Typically, however, river monitors displayed a mixture of gun sizes from 3-inch (75 mm) to 6-inch (152 mm), plus machine guns. This type of vessel overlaps with the river gunboat.

United States

USS Neosho (1863-1873) - NH 60617
The Civil War era river monitor Neosho.

River monitors were used during the American Civil War, playing an important role in the Mississippi River Campaigns. They also played a role in the Battle of Mobile Bay. The American Civil War river monitors were very large, weighing up to 1,300 tons.

During the Vietnam War, the US Navy's Brown Water Navy operated its monitors as part of their River Assault Flotilla One, which initially consisted of four River Assault Divisions (RAD); with RAD 91 containing three monitors, RAD 92 having two monitors, RAD 111 having three monitors, and RAD 112 operating two monitors.[2]

The Vietnam monitors were divided into two programs; program 4 would consist of the 40 mm gun monitors, while the later program 5 would entail the eight Monitor (H) Howitzer versions, and the six Monitor (F) Flamethrower models.[3] All of the monitors were converted from World War II 56-foot (17 m) long Landing Craft Mechanized (LCMs) Mk 6s.[4] When completed, they were 60 feet (18 m) long, 17 feet (5.2 m) wide, with a draft of 3 12 feet (1.1 m), had two screws driven by two Gray Marine model 64NH9 diesel engines, could do 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h; 9.8 mph) and were manned by usually 11 or more crewmen.[5] They usually carried about ten tons of armor.

US riverboat using napalm in Vietnam
A Mobile Riverine Force monitor using napalm in the Vietnam War.[6]
US Navy Brown Water Navy River Monitors (Vietnam)[7]
Generation-One Type Generation-Two Type/Flame Generation-Two Type/Howitzer
Length 18.6 m (61 ft 0 in) 18.4 m (60 ft 6 in)
Width 5.3 m (17 ft 6 in)
Draft 1.1 m (3 ft 6 in)
Engines 2 Gray Marine 64HN9 diesels; 160 kW (220 hp) at 2100 rpm
Speed 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h)
Crew 11
Armament
  • 2 20 mm cannons
  • 2 200m range flamethrowers
  • 3 M79 grenade launchers
  • 2 .50 cal. machine guns
  • 1 105 mm howitzer
  • 2 20 mm cannons
  • 3 M79 grenade launchers
  • 2 .50 cal. machine guns
  • 1 7.62 mm machine gun

Asia

On Asian rivers, the Amur Military Flotilla on the Amur used large Taifun-class river monitors of the Imperial Russian Navy from around 1907; the Imperial Japanese Navy captured some of these ships in 1918.[8][9] They were up to 1,000 tons displacement, armed with 130 mm guns. Some of these Russian monitors, such as the recommissioned Sverdlov, were still in use by the Soviet Navy in the 1945 Soviet invasion of Manchuria.[10]

During the Vietnam War, the United States Navy, in conjunction with other riverine craft, commissioned 24 monitors, ten of which mounted a single 40 mm cannon in a Mk 52 turret, eight which mounted an M49 105 mm howitzer within a T172 turret,[11] and six monitors which mounted two M10-8 flamethrowers from two M8 turrets located on either side of the vessel's 40 mm cannon. Referred to as "river battleships"[12] by their crews, they provided the firepower of the brown-water navy.

Europe

River monitor Inn
Austro-Hungarian river monitor SMS Inn (later Romanian Basarabia), the largest Danube warship sunk during World War I

On the Danube, river monitors were employed during World War I by Austria-Hungary and Romania. The Austro-Hungarian river monitor Bodrog fired the first shots of World War I, against the city of Belgrade, and later also fought in the Romanian Campaign, notably during the Flămânda Offensive in October 1916, when she was damaged. Another river monitor, Körös, was also heavily damaged by Romanian artillery, taking 12 hits and ran aground after her steam lines were severed.[13] On 22 September 1917, the Enns-class river monitor Inn was sunk by a Romanian mine near Brăila.[14][15][16] She was refloated but her repairs were not completed before the War ended, and she was eventually handed over to Romania as war reparation, being renamed Basarabia.[17]

During World War I, Romania had the largest river monitors on the Danube, displacing 680 tons, armed mainly with three 120 mm guns and protected by at least 70 mm of armor around the belt, turrets and conning tower. They were built in sections at Triest in Austria-Hungary, transported to Romania by rail and assembled by the Romanians at the Galați shipyard in 1907-1908.[18][19][20] They did not engage enemy ships, however, instead they were used to support ground forces during the Battle of Turtucaia and the First Battle of Cobadin, and also took part in the 1917 campaign, contributing to the stemming of the enemy advance.[21] During the Interwar period, the Romanian Danube Flotilla was the most powerful riverine fleet in the world.[22] In 1924, the Romanian river monitors helped suppress the Tatarbunary uprising, along with the entire Romanian Danube Flotilla.

Hlídková loď President Masaryk (2)
President Masaryk, the flagship of the Czechoslovak River Flotilla

Czechoslovakia had one monitor, President Masaryk, of about 200 tons displacement. She was captured by the Germans in 1939 and commissioned as Bechelaren. She was capitally rebuilt in 1943 and her armament was also modified in February 1945. She supported German troops during Operation Spring Awakening and later fought in Austria, sinking two Soviet gunboats.

Yugoslav river monitors were former Austro-Hungarian warships received as reparations. They were renamed Vardar (ex-Bosna), Sava (ex-Bodrog), Drava (ex-Enns) and Morava (ex-Körös). After the fall of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Morava (renamed Bosna) and Sava were commissioned by the newly created Independent State of Croatia.

Smaller monitors (70–100 ton displacement) were used by Poland in 1939 on the Pripyat River and by the Soviet Union in 1941 on the Pripyat and Dnepr rivers. The Soviet Union also had five Zheleznyakov-class monitors of 263 tons, which served with the Danube Flotilla and Dnieper Flotilla in World War II.

Hungary also used river monitors, five of them notably taking part during the Kozara Offensive in 1942.

South America

The Brazilian river monitor Parnaíba, commissioned on March 9, 1938, is the oldest warship in the world still in active service.

See also

References

  1. ^ Carrico, p. 11
  2. ^ Carrico, p. 12
  3. ^ Carrico p. 63
  4. ^ Carrico, p. 16, 17
  5. ^ Carrico, p. 63
  6. ^ Carrico p. 82
  7. ^ Monitor Specifications, U.S. Navy Mobile Riverine Force, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-01-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ See Soviet Union Monitors Warships of World War II. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  9. ^ Tayfun river gunboats (monitors) (1910). Navypedia. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  10. ^ Glantz, David (2004) Soviet Operational and Tactical Combat in Manchuria, 1945: 'August Storm'. Routledge, p. 222. ISBN 9781135774783
  11. ^ Carrico, p. 27
  12. ^ Carrico, p. 20, 21, 63
  13. ^ Michael B. Barrett, Prelude to Blitzkrieg: The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania, p. 140
  14. ^ Angus Konstam, Gunboats of World War I, p. 29
  15. ^ René Greger, Austro-Hungarian warships of World War I, p. 142
  16. ^ Mark Axworthy, Cornel I. Scafeș, Cristian Crăciunoiu, Third Axis, Fourth Ally: Romanian Armed Forces in the European War, 1941-1945, p. 327
  17. ^ René Greger, Austro-Hungarian Warships of World War I, p. 142
  18. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 422
  19. ^ Roger Kafka, Roy L. Pepperburg, Warships of the World, p. 881
  20. ^ Frederick Thomas Jane, Jane's Fighting Ships, p. 343
  21. ^ Spencer Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts, World War I: Encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 999
  22. ^ Axworthy, p. 327
  • Carrico, John M., Vietnam Ironclads, 2007; Brown Water Enterprises. ISBN 978-0-9794231-0-9.
  • Friedman, Norman, U.S. Small Combatants: An Illustrated Design History, 1987; Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-713-5.
  • Kramer, Charles (Illustrator), Popular Mechanics Magazine, 1967; Charles Kramer of Zik Assoc., Ltd. cutaway view of Vietnam "River Battleship".
Brazilian monitor Parnaíba (U17)

Parnaíba (U-17) [paʁnaˈibɐ] is a river monitor of the Brazilian Navy.

Brătianu-class river monitor

The Brătianu-class river monitors were a class of four river monitors used by the Romanian Navy. They were named Ion C. Brătianu, Lascăr Catargiu, Mihail Kogălniceanu and Alexandru Lahovari.

Canopy goanna

The canopy goanna (Varanus keithhornei) is a species of monitor lizards native to northeast Australia. It is also known as the blue-nosed tree monitor, Keith Horne's monitor, or occasionally as the Nesbit River monitor It belongs to the subgenus Euprepiosaurus and is a member of the Varanus prasinus species group.This monitor lizard is found in a restricted range near the Nesbit River, or in the McIlwraith or Iron Mountain Ranges on the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland.

Enns-class river monitor

The Enns-class river monitors were built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy during the mid-1910s. The two ships of the class were assigned to the Danube Flotilla and participated in World War I. The ships survived the war and were transferred to Romania and the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) as reparations.

List of monitors of World War II

A monitor is a class of relatively small warship that is lightly armoured, often provided with disproportionately large guns, and originally designed for coastal warfare. The term "monitor" grew to include breastwork monitors, the largest class of riverine warcraft known as river monitors, and was sometimes used as a generic term for any turreted ship. In the early 20th century, the term "monitor" included shallow-draft armoured shore bombardment vessels, particularly those of the Royal Navy: the Lord Clive-class monitors carried guns that fired the heaviest shells ever used at sea and saw action against German targets during World War I. Two small Royal Navy monitors from the First World War, Erebus and Terror survived to fight in the Second World War. When the requirement for shore support and strong shallow-water coastal defence returned, new monitors and variants such as coastal defence ships were built (e.g. the British Roberts-class monitors). Allied monitors saw service in the Mediterranean in support of the British Eighth Army's desert and Italian campaigns. They were part of the offshore bombardment for the Invasion of Normandy in 1944. They were also used to clear the German-mined River Scheldt by the British to utilize the port of Antwerp. The German, Yugoslav, Croatian, Romanian, Hungarian and Czech armed forces operated river monitors that saw combat during World War II.The List of ships of the Second World War contains major military vessels of the war, arranged alphabetically and by type. The list includes armed vessels that served during the war and in the immediate aftermath, inclusive of localized ongoing combat operations, garrison surrenders, post-surrender occupation, colony re-occupation, troop and prisoner repatriation, to the end of 1945. For smaller vessels, see also list of World War II ships of less than 1000 tons. Some uncompleted Axis ships are included, out of historic interest. Ships are designated to the country under which they operated for the longest period of the Second World War, regardless of where they were built or previous service history.

Click on headers to sort column alphabetically.

List of shipwrecks in September 1939

The list of shipwrecks in September 1939 includes all ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during September 1939. Most of the ships listed here were lost in connection with World War II.

Mihail Kogălniceanu-class river monitor

The Mihail Kogălniceanu class river monitor is a class of riverine patrol boats in service with the Romanian Naval Forces. Three ships of this class are currently in service with the Romanian Navy.

Mississippi River Squadron

The Mississippi River Squadron was the Union brown-water naval squadron that operated on the western rivers during the American Civil War. It was initially created as a part of the Union Army, although it was commanded by naval officers, and was then known as the Western Gunboat Flotilla and sometimes as the Mississippi Flotilla. It received its final designation when it was transferred to the Union Navy at the beginning of October 1862.

ORP Warszawa (1920)

ORP Warszawa was an armed river monitor of the Riverine Flotilla of the Polish Navy, launched in 1920 and scuttled in 1939. She was raised by the Soviets, scuttled again in 1941, raised for the last time in 1944 and then scrapped.

Sava-class river monitor

The Sava-class river monitors were built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy during the mid-1910s. The two ships of the class were assigned to the Danube Flotilla and participated in World War I. The ships survived the war and were transferred to Romania and the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia) as reparations.

Smârdan-class river monitor

The Smardan class river monitor is a class of riverine patrol boats in service with the Romanian Naval Forces. NATO codification: Brutar II - class. Five ships of this class are currently in service with the Romanian Navy.

Temes-class river monitor

The Temes class was a class of originally Austro-Hungarian river monitor warships used during World War I.

A notable member was the Bodrog (later the Yugoslav monitor Sava).

USS Kickapoo (1864)

USS Kickapoo was a double-turreted Milwaukee-class river monitor, the lead ship of her class, built for the Union Navy during the American Civil War. The ship supported Union forces during the Mobile Campaign as they attacked Confederate fortifications defending the city of Mobile, Alabama in early 1865. She was placed in reserve after the end of the war and sold in 1874.

USS Milwaukee (1864)

The first USS Milwaukee, a double-turreted Milwaukee-class river monitor, the lead ship of her class, built for the Union Navy during the American Civil War. The ship supported Union forces during the Mobile Campaign as they attacked Confederate fortifications defending the city of Mobile, Alabama in early 1865. She struck a mine in March and sank without loss. Her wreck was raised in 1868 and broken up for scrap that was used in the construction of a bridge in St. Louis, Missouri.

USS Neosho (1863)

USS Neosho, the lead ship of her class, was an ironclad river monitor laid down for the Union Navy in the summer of 1862 during the American Civil War. After completion in mid-1863, the ship spent time patrolling the Mississippi River against Confederate raids and ambushes as part of Rear Admiral David Porter's Mississippi Squadron. She participated in the Red River Campaign in March–May 1864. Neosho resumed her patrols on the Mississippi after the end of the campaign. She supported the Union Army's operations on the Cumberland River and provided fire support during the Battle of Nashville in December 1864. Neosho was decommissioned after the war and remained in reserve until sold in 1873.

USS Onondaga (1863)

USS Onondaga was a river monitor built for the Union Navy during the American Civil War. The ship spent her entire active career with the James River Flotilla, covering the water approaches to Richmond, Virginia, during the last year of the Civil War. After the war, she was purchased by France.

USS Ozark (1863)

USS Ozark was a single-turreted river monitor built for the United States Navy during the American Civil War. The ship served in the Mississippi River Squadron during the war, and participated in the Red River Campaign shortly after she was commissioned in early 1864. Ozark patrolled the Mississippi River and its tributaries after the end of the campaign for the rest of the war. She was decommissioned after the war and sold in late 1865.

The ship's activities or owner are not known after her sale, but Ozark transported Federal troops and New Orleans police attempting to apprehend the white supremacists who killed a large number of blacks during the Colfax Massacre in 1873. She ferried witnesses back and forth to their homes on the Red River during the subsequent trials in 1874. Her ultimate fate is unknown.

Yugoslav monitor Sava

The Yugoslav monitor Sava is a Temes-class river monitor that was built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy as SMS Bodrog. She fired the first shots of World War I just after 01:00 on 29 July 1914, when she and two other monitors shelled Serbian defences near Belgrade. She was part of the Danube Flotilla, and fought the Serbian and Romanian armies from Belgrade to the mouth of the Danube. In the closing stages of the war, she was the last monitor to withdraw towards Budapest, but was captured by the Serbs when she grounded on a sandbank downstream from Belgrade. After the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), and renamed Sava. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, although budget restrictions meant she was not always in full commission.

During the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Sava served with the 1st Monitor Division. Along with her fellow monitor Vardar, she laid mines in the Danube near the Romanian border during the first few days of the invasion. The two monitors fought off several attacks by the Luftwaffe, but were forced to withdraw to Belgrade. Due to high river levels and low bridges, navigation was difficult, and Sava was scuttled on 11 April. Some of her crew tried to escape cross-country towards the southern Adriatic coast, but all were captured prior to the Yugoslav surrender. The vessel was later raised by the navy of the Axis puppet state known as the Independent State of Croatia and continued to serve as Sava until the night of 8 September 1944 when she was again scuttled.

Following World War II, Sava was raised once again, and was refurbished to serve in the Yugoslav Navy from 1952 to 1962. She was then transferred to a state-owned company that was eventually privatised. In 2005, the government of Serbia granted her limited heritage protection after citizens demanded that she be preserved as a floating museum, but little else has been done to restore her at the time. In 2015, the Serbian Ministry of Defence and Belgrade's Military Museum acquired the ship and restored her. She was relaunched as a floating museum in early 2019.

Yugoslav monitor Vardar

Vardar was a Sava-class river monitor built for the Austro-Hungarian Navy as SMS Bosna, but was renamed SMS Temes (II) before she went into service. During World War I, she was the flagship of the Danube Flotilla, and fought the Serbian Army, the Romanian Navy and Army, and the French Army. She reverted to the name Bosna in May 1917, after the original SMS Temes was raised and returned to service. After brief service with the Hungarian People's Republic at the end of the war, she was transferred to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), and renamed Vardar. She remained in service throughout the interwar period, although budget restrictions meant she was not always in full commission.

During the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, she was the flagship of the 1st Monitor Division, and along with her fellow monitor Sava, she laid mines in the Danube near the Romanian border during the first few days of the invasion. The two monitors fought off several attacks by the Luftwaffe, but were forced to withdraw to Belgrade. Due to high river levels and low bridges, the monitors' navigation was difficult, and they were scuttled by their crews on 11 April. Some of her crew may have been killed when a demolished bridge collapsed onto a tugboat after they abandoned ship. Some tried to escape cross-country towards the southern Adriatic coast, but most surrendered to the Germans at Sarajevo on 14 April. The remainder made their way to the Bay of Kotor, where they were captured by the Italian XVII Corps on 17 April.

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