From the very moment when the caveman suddenly realized that a tree can swim, not sink, the sea has become an integral part of human history. From pies carved out of wood to modern atomic-powered ships, man never lost touch with ships. Before the steam engine era, this was essentially the only way to move goods around the world.
It is safe to say that ships are an integral part of civilization. Thus, ships continue to fascinate us, sometimes having a mystical attraction to themselves.
Imagining the future without them is simply unthinkable. Over the millennia, mankind has managed to build millions of ships, some of which have managed to influence history. Some of the ships became famous for their achievements, while others have become a kind of symbol that unites peoples. All these legends have survived the centuries, and will be described below.
Santa Maria. Although this boat was only about 70 feet (21.4 meters) long and by and large it was slow and inconspicuous, few can deny its glory. It was this that brought Christopher Columbus to the New World. Although the traveler eventually acquired a bad reputation, especially for his brutality as governor of Hispaniola, for all his weaknesses, fame brought him courage. After all, Columbus was not afraid to go into the unknown, having managed to cross the Atlantic in the end as many as 4 times. Unfortunately, the fragile Santa Maria was unable to repeat her captain's journey - she ran aground on Christmas Day in 1492. Her timber was saved, she was preparing for the construction of a new ship, La Navidad, which means "Christmas", as the wreck happened on that date. The original legendary ship has long since disappeared, but since then at least four copies of Santa Maria have been built and all of them could go to sea. Unfortunately, none of them can be called an exact copy, since there are no records left about the original design of the ship. This made it possible to create various configurations of the former Santa Maria.
H.L. Hanley. This early prototype submarine was actually more dangerous to its own naval crews than opponents. However, it was this ship that started the revolution in naval engineering, the fruits of which we still use today. The boat was created by the Confederates in 1863 specifically to sink the ships of the northerners, who blocked a number of ports. The boat made only a few voyages, during which 13 crew members died, including the creator himself, H.L. Hunter. The first baptism of fire was scheduled for the evening of February 17, 1864. Few people wanted to serve on Hunley, so a team of men with suicidal tendencies came together. Attached to the bow of the ship was a pike with a lethal charge attached to it. Captain Dixon chose a target - the steam sloop Housatonic. The pike was stuck in the starboard, the submarine backed up, and the trigger cord made the charge detonate. As a result of the explosion, Housatonic sank, becoming the first ship in history to be sunk by a submarine. Unfortunately, the small boat did not return to the dock, sinking for unknown reasons. For 136 years, she remained at the bottom with eight crew members. Only 136 years later, in Charleston Harbor, H.L. Hanley was discovered and raised in August 2000 with great fanfare. The vessel is surprisingly well preserved, today it is kept in a special container. And before the novel by Jules Verne "20 thousand leagues under the sea" was as much as 5 years ...
USS "Monitor" and CSS "Virginia" (or "Merrimack"). Although the hours-long battle between these battleships in Hampton, Virginia, was relatively uninteresting and ended in a draw. But this battle is considered one of the most important in the history of the navy. Indeed, for the first time in a duel, two ships descended, made not of wood, but of iron. The monitor also had the honor of being the first ship with a rotating gun turret. This design changed the direction of shipbuilding in the next century. The Confederate battleship, Virginia, was built on top of the recovered frigate Merrimack, which had been sunk earlier. This led to the confusion with the names. The Merrimack was sunk when Norfolk was captured by the Southerners in April 1861. The lifted ship was fitted with massive metal plates. Not only did it prove impervious to cannon fire, it also became a dangerous Southern weapon used to sink a pair of traditional wooden Union ships the day before the historic battle. Neither Monitor nor Virginia played a significant role in the war, soon sank. Virginia was blown up in May 1862 when Allied forces recaptured Norfolk. The monitor was lost during a storm off Cape Hatteras on New Year's Eve in the same 1862. Then 16 crew members also drowned. By the way, the wreck of this ship off the Cape in Virginia in 1973 was marked as a national monument. Since then, many artifacts from the ship have been found, including - towers, guns, propeller, anchor, engine, crew personal belongings. All items are currently on display at the Maritime Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
USS "Constitution". In America this ship is known as the "Old Ironsides". The ship, thanks to its sturdy construction, is the country's oldest intact ship and serves as a museum in Boston, Massachusetts. The constitution has been afloat for 213 years and has an unusually long lifespan. The ship was in service from 1797 until the Civil War, after which a training ship was made of it. The Constitution periodically went to sea until its final retirement in 1881. During her life, she managed to take part in two conflicts. First, in the first Barbarian War, when the "Constitution" fought against the real pirates in the Mediterranean, and in the war of 1812, when the ship distinguished itself by defeating the British frigates "Gueriere" and "Java". It was these circumstances that gave the "Constitution" the reputation of a ship that can repulse the British in a personal battle. At the time, this was no small feat, given that the Royal Navy was at that time the largest and most powerful in the world. It was glory that saved the ship from destruction since 1907. He began to act as a museum on the water. The "Constitution" has been restored and refurbished so many times that today even the keel contains only a fraction of the remaining original. The rest of the parts have changed several times over the decades. The "Constitution" is still in operation, as it proves every year when it is towed to Boston Harbor. There she demonstrates her boards in all their beauty, meets regattas. Officially, the "Constitution" is still a warship, today it has sixty crew members who are active members of the US Navy.
Battleship Missouri. Even if this ship was not an active participant in major naval battles. Nevertheless, "Mighty Mo", as the crew members called it among themselves, was honored to become the very vessel on which the documents on the end of the Second World War were signed. It happened in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. But not only this war was noted in the fate of the ship. The battleship with a displacement of 48 thousand tons was at sea for a long time. After being decommissioned after the war, it resumed operations during the Korean War, and then in 1984, when it became part of Ronald Reagan's plan for 600 ships. Missouri served during the first Gulf War in 1991, when cruise missiles and 16-inch rounds were fired from the ship against targets in Iraq. Today, the ship sits in perpetual peaceful anchorage at Pearl Harbor, serving as a museum and war memorial. It is interesting that from the mooring site it is only a few hundred meters from the crash site of the battleship "Arizona". In fact, from the deck of the ship, you can see the places where the war began for the Americans and where it ended.
HMS Victoria. HMS stands for "Her Majesty's Ship". No other ship served better as a symbol of the power that the Royal Navy enjoyed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. After all, Victoria was the famous and, in fact, the legendary flagship of Lord Nelson. The ship is one of the largest wooden ships ever built. He saw significant action in the last decades of the eighteenth century, namely fighting with both the French and Spanish fleets. "Victoria" went down in history during the famous Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. After all, it was on board that Admiral Nelson was mortally wounded, having managed to defeat the combined fleet of the French and Spaniards before. This victory helped save England from a military invasion. The ship was originally planned to be decommissioned after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The story says that "Victoria" was rescued by the wife of the naval minister, who, upon learning that the ship, which had served so long and bravely, would be destroyed, simply burst into tears and demanded that her husband cancel the scrapping of the ship. The official was not a fool, he understood how to maintain family balance, and did exactly what his spouse demanded of him. As a result, the ship became a sailor training school for the next hundred years. In 1922, the British government undertook extensive restoration work. The ship now operates as a museum in Portsmouth, making the Victoria one of the oldest ships afloat in the world.
The battleship Maine. Some ships became famous not for what they did, but for what they actually represented. Battleship Maine was tiny compared to the monster battleships that would appear on its basis later. But the death of this ship was the reason for the start of the Spanish-American war. Those events united the nation. The ship was located in the shallow harbor of Havana, when suddenly on February 15, 1898, it was torn in two by a mysterious explosion. Of the 355 crew members, only 89 people survived, while the Maine itself sank in a matter of minutes. The cause of the explosion remained unclear. Today, some historians and naval engineers speculate that it may have been the result of the accidental detonation of ammunition inside the vessel due to coal fires. However, the authorities immediately suspected deliberate sabotage. Allegedly, the Spaniards had installed a mine in advance. These events brought the country into a war for the next few months, a short but incredibly successful one. In the end, the participation of the Spaniards in the incident was never proven, it would have been disadvantageous for them. But experts say that a mine would have formed a hole in the ship's hull, while it was torn in half. In any case, the Americans received the battle cry "Remember Man", which remained popular for several decades after that. As for the ship itself, in 1911, its remains were raised from the bottom of the Havana port together with mud, as they began to pose a danger to other ships. Pieces of the Maine were taken out to sea and flooded with all military honors. Thus, the end of the battleship became worthy. Although he did little in his lifetime, he caused many consequences and the redistribution of colonial possessions.
German battleship "Bismarck". The Bismarck became the main threat of the British fleet in the spring of 1941. The 823-foot vessel with a maximum speed of 30 knots was the fastest to be afloat. In late May, the Bismarck left the base in Gdynia, Poland, intending to hunt British merchant ships. Further events became the largest naval hunt in the history of the Royal Navy, remembered by both sides for a long time. On the morning of May 24, near the coast of Iceland, the Bismarck fought with the British cruiser Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales. After a brief exchange of fire, the Hood exploded - the shell apparently hit the cellar. As a result of the death of the ship, 1,417 crew members drowned, only three managed to escape. The Prince of Wales was badly damaged and forced to flee the battlefield. The Bismarck itself was damaged and was heading towards the French coast for repairs. During the voyage, the ship was also attacked by British torpedo bombers. As a result, the German ship was overtaken by the British battleships Rodney and King George V. Their firepower was able to send Hitler's pride to the bottom. As a result of a two-hour battle, the already wounded ship was finally finished off. About 2000 members of its crew drowned, only about 200 sailors survived. The site of the sinking of the Bismarck was discovered only in 1989 by Robert Ballard, who had also discovered the Titanic three years earlier. The German battleship was carefully studied. Despite the intervening years, it turned out that heavy damage during the last battle, his corps was practically intact. However, serious design errors were discovered that resulted in loss of control when the steering wheel was damaged. This made it possible to assume that the battleship was not sunk by the British, but was sunk. The last battle of the Bismarck showed that the battleships had lost their importance - the leading role at sea passed to the aircraft carriers.
The battleship "Arizona". Few of American veterans evoke emotions of a particular kind. One of them is "Arizona", named after one of the states. The ship managed to take part in the First World War without being noted for anything special, and its active participation in the Second World War lasted only 15 minutes. That is how much it took the Japanese bombers to sink this battleship. During the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, four heavy bombs hit Arizona at once. They pierced several decks and exploded deep inside, where the shells and fuel supplies were located. A terrible shot tore the battleship apart, creating a tsunami-like wave. As a result, out of 1400 crew members, 1177 were killed, including the captain and the admiral. The remains of the ship burned for several more days. Arizona was so badly damaged that there was no point in rebuilding it. The ship remained in Pearl Harbor to this day, already as a war memorial, which is visited by millions of people every year. Given the ship's prominence today, it is interesting that few even Americans themselves know about the fate of Arizona over the next several years after the war. Military censors kept silent about the fact that the battleship lay forgotten in shallow water for decades after that attack. The memorial appeared only in the late 1960s. becoming a symbol of America's determination and a tribute to the fallen. Every year on December 7, a prayer for the fallen is held here, the newly elected president of the country traditionally visits him. For a long time from the engine room of the ship, engine oil seeps drop by drop, spreading over the water as a lilac stain. "Arizona" is crying for its crew ...
British liner "Titanic". It's easy to name the most famous ship in history - the Titanic. This luxurious vessel was designed to showcase all the technological capabilities of a person at that time. Instead, there was only a demonstration of arrogance. The Titanic became the largest and fastest passenger ship of its time. The White Star Line steamer left England on April 10, 1912 for its maiden voyage to New York. However, five days later, the giant collided with an iceberg, and the ship sank.Although it seemed that two and a half hours from the moment of the collision to the moment the Titanic sank under the water should be enough to evacuate all 2,300 people on board, in reality it turned out that only half of the lifeboats were on the ship. This led to the death of 1,500 people who found themselves a watery grave in the North Atlantic. The disaster came as a shock to the entire maritime community, as a result of which radical changes were made to the rules for the mandatory number of lifeboats on board, and other safety measures were also strengthened. In the end, the name "Titanic" became not only synonymous with tragedy, but also greed, indifference and class privileges. After all, most of the dead were third class passengers. The history of "Titanic" is shrouded in mystery, which only increases over the years. In 1985, the ship was discovered at a depth of 3,750 meters, and has since served as an even greater source of inspiration for both documentaries and feature films. It can be said that the Titanic taught humanity a hard lesson, the consequences of which we are experiencing to this day.
It is, perhaps, impossible to tell about all the known vessels. Also noteworthy are the Russian battleships Potemkin and Aurora (which became symbols of the revolutions of 1905 and 1917), and HMS Bounty (a British frigate famous for its mutiny on it), and HMS Endeavor (on which Captain Cook studied the Pacific Islands ocean), and the "May Flower" (on it in 1620 pilgrims were brought to Massachusetts), "Louisitania" (her death in 1915 served as a catalyst for the entry of the United States into the First World War), USS "Independence" (the most prominent aircraft carrier of the Navy USA in World War II), the Japanese battleship Yamato (the largest battleship built) or the English galleon "Golden Hind" (on which Sir Francis Drake made his first full voyage around the world in 1577-1580).