Swedish-American naval engineer John Ericsson
was born with a rare mechanical genius and an even rarer temper. Unfairly blamed for a deadly gun explosion aboard one of his pioneering ships in 1841, he initially turned his back on the Navy when it began seeking designs for an ironclad vessel at the outbreak of the Civil War. Still, the difficult inventor stunned his audience when, through the deception of a colleague, he was finally persuaded to present his plans for what would become a revolutionary warship. The USS Monitor left the age of wooden sailing ships behind and gave birth to the modern era of mechanized naval warfare. * The first revolving gun turret.
Enabled the Monitor to fire in any direction regardless of its course. * The first low-profile design.
Reduced the Monitor's exposed parts to a heavily armored gun turret, an armored pilothouse and an armored deck that rose only 18 inches above the waterline. * The first to house its crew and engine room below the waterline.
Required the invention of a pioneering ventilation system, a pressure-operated toilet and some 40 other groundbreaking innovations.