New AIMM volunteer Mike Hopper recently completed a new exhibit on the monitor USS Arkansas
(Photograph from the Library of Congress archives)
The second U.S. Navy ship to bear the state's name, the monitor Arkansas
was the lead ship of her class, and one of the last monitors built for the U.S. Navy as they transitioned from sail to steam in the period around the turn of the last century.
Monitors were the first vessels built with guns in rotating turrets, rather than being fixed in place. Steam powered and built with armored hulls, they revolutionized naval warfare during the American Civil War.
However, they suffered from one major defect. With their low decks, the had poor seagoing capability. In fact, the first such vessel, USS Monitor
, sank during the Civil War not from enemy fire, but during a storm off Cape Hatteras.
(Photograph from the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Center, Washington, DC)
The monitor Arkansas
, commissioned in 1902, was designed to take advantage of the previous 40 years of ship design since USS Monitor
had been built. For example, she was able, during her career, to sail as far south as the Panama Canal.
After serving as a training vessel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD for several years, she was renamed USS Ozark
in 1909 in order to free up the name "Arkansas" for a battleship then under construction (USS Arkansas
(BB-33), which served in both World War I and World war II).
Largely obsolete due to rapidly advancing technology, she was converted to a submarine tender, to provide support to a new type of warship that was, in turn, revolutionizing naval warfare all over again.
She was decommissioned after World War I and sold for scrapping in 1922.