A monitor is a coastal defence ship that was used in the late 19th century. The ships had a low freeboard and a gun turret amidships. The ships were used as warships that could resist enemy fire. They were powered by coal-fired steam boilers.
The monitor Sölve was built in 1875 at the Motala Warf shipyard in Norrköping and was one of a series of seven small monitors. She was equipped with a 24 cm M/69 cannon installed in an armoured turret, as well as two 2 mm M/75 machine guns. The entire ship had to be turned to aim the cannon, and the Sölve was, therefore, also equipped with a bow rudder and two propellers. Between 1899 and 1901 the Sölve was re-armed with a 12 cm M/94 cannon that could be turned laterally 41 degrees. Two 57 mm M/89B cannons were also added to the superstructure.
Inventor and civil war
The monitor was originally developed by Swedish inventor John Ericsson for the American Union’s fleet during the American Civil War. The USS Monitor fought the Confederate States’ CSS Virginia in the battle of Hampton Roads in 1862. Neither ship managed to sink the other, but the Virginia retreated and the Monitor won, which paved the way to victory over the Confederate States three years later. The Monitor and the Virginia were among the world’s first armoured ships, and after their appearance in the fleet the era of wooden ships was more or less over.
Today the Sölve is the world’s only preserved third-class coastal defence monitor, and she is moored at Maritiman with the aim of being restored to her original condition.
Read seaman Tore Jönsson’s journal.