SH 171 Summer-2020

Page 7

We Welcome Your Feedback!



Please email correspondence to Q & A Regarding USS Olympia’s Armament and Hull Design

From John Brady, president and CEO, Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA (steward of USS Olympia): USS Olympia was designed to be able to ram another ship with the bow sweeping forward and greatly reinforced. This area of the ship originally was a torpedo room, and in a subsequent refit the torpedo tube was removed and the area used as a pantry. The brig is also located here, possibly because it would be a very uncomfortable place to be. The stern also was fitted for torpedoes

independence seaport museum

note that the prows of both USS Olympia and US Revenue Cutter Algonquin sweep back from the waterline, and based on the graphic on page 21 of the Spring 2020 issue of Sea History, it appears that the Olympia’s stern sweeps forward from the waterline. This is the opposite of what I would consider the usual ship configuration. It looks to me like the Olympia’s length on deck might be shorter than her waterline length! And life in the foc’s’le would seem to be particularly unpleasant. Is there a functional reason for this design, or is it just a design quirk of late 19th-century steel vessels? I haven’t been in Philadelphia in years. But if I ever visit again, the Independence Seaport Museum will be high on my list of “must visits.” Paul J. Galanti Indianapolis, Indiana and these were removed during the same refit. I suspect the stern configuration may have had more to do with aesthetics than anything else.


have a question about the Olympia’s design. With a plumb bow, how would she behave in very rough seas? Modern warships sport a “flared” bow that increases buoyancy when diving into head seas. Any reason for the lack thereof? David Welles, via email

John Brady: The primary reason for the shape of Olympia’s bow is that she was designed to ram other ships. The forward part of the hull was reinforced with this in mind. In historic accounts of the ship underway, I don’t recall references to her being particularly wet forward. Any discomfort was due to her narrow beam. USS Olympia had a tendency to roll, especially when not deeply laden. In the age of steam, speed was obtained by using long, narrow hull forms.

Join Us for a Voyage into History

independence seaport museum

Our seafaring heritage comes alive in the pages of Sea History, from the ancient mariners of Greece to Portuguese navigators opening up the ocean world to the heroic efforts of sailors in modern-day conflicts. Each issue brings new insights and discoveries. If you love the sea, rivers, lakes, and

bays—if you appreciate the legacy of those who sail in deep water and their workaday craft, then you belong with us.

Join Today!

Mail in the form below, phone 1 800 221-NMHS (6647), or visit us at: (e-mail:

Yes, I want to join the Society and receive Sea History quarterly. My contribution is enclosed. ($22.50 is for Sea History; any amount above that is tax deductible.) Sign me up as: $45 Regular Member $100 Friend 171 $250 Patron $500 Donor Mr./Ms. _____________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ZIP_______________ Return to: National Maritime Historical Society, PO Box 68, Peekskill, NY 10566


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.