A Round Ship

Novgorod scale model – Wikipedia

Did you know that back in the late 1800’s the Russians built a round ship? The Novgorod monitor has the dubious reputation of being the worst ever warship to be constructed.  Built in the 1870’s, the hull was circular to reduce draught and allow it to carry more armour than other ships the same size. It proved to be too hard to manoeuvre and steer. Not only that, those on board became severely seasick due to its spinning. Decommissioned in 1903, it was eventually sold for scrap in 1911.

“… they were a dismal failure. They were too slow to stem the current in the Dniepr, and proved very difficult to steer. In practice the discharge of even one gun caused them to turn out of control and even contra-rotating some of six propellers was unable to keep the ship on the correct heading. Nor could they cope with the rough weather which is frequently encountered in the Black Sea. They were prone to rapid rolling and pitching in anything more than a flat calm, and could not aim or load their guns under such circumstances….

On a trial cruise, they (Novgorod and Vitse-admiral Popov) went up the Dniepr very nicely for some distance, till they turned to retire. Then the current caught them, and they were carried out to sea, whirled helplessly round and round, every soul on board helplessly incapacitated by vertigo.” 

Raili Tanska


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