|John Ericsson (1803 - 1889)|
|Propelling Steam Vessels|
John Ericsson, one of the 19th Century's most creative engineers and inventors, was born on 31 July 1803 in Sweden. As a youth, he joined the Swedish Army, which recognized his talents and put him to work on topographical duties. Ericsson left the Army in 1826 and moved to England, where he pursued a variety of engineering projects, among them the use of screw propellers on ships, the development of extraordinarly large guns and the creation of engines driven by hot air instead of steam.
John Ericsson's work attracted the attention Robert F. Stockton, an influential and progressive U.S. Navy officer, who encouraged him to relocate to the United States. During the early 1840s, the two designed a screw-propelled warship, which was commissioned in 1843 as USS Princeton, armed with heavy guns of their devising. The tragic explosion of one of these guns, and efforts to improperly assign the blame to Ericsson, led the strong-willed engineer to redirect his creativity into civilian fields, which he pursued successfully during the 1840s and 1850s.
The outbreak of the American Civil War brought John Ericsson back into formal contact with the Navy, when he designed and produced USS Monitor, a revolutionary armored ship carrying her guns in a rotating turret. Monitor's successful battle with the Confederate ironclad Virginia on 9 March 1862 made Ericsson a great hero in the North. For the remainder of the conflict, he was actively involved in designing and building a large series of "Monitor"-type turret ships for the Navy.
John Ericsson continued his work on maritime and naval technology after the Civil War, producing ships for foreign navies and experimenting with submarines, self-propelled torpedoes and heavy ordnance. He remained active until his death in New York City on 8 March 1889. In August 1890, following a memorial service at New York, his body was placed on board the cruiser Baltimore, which carried him across the Atlantic to his native Sweden for burial.
Three U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of John Ericsson: the torpedo boat Ericsson (Torpedo Boat # 2), 1897-1912; and the destroyers Ericsson (DD-56), 1915-1934; and Ericsson (DD-440), 1941-1970.
Partial List of John Ericsson's
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