Her Majesty's Ship Majestic Keeping Watch over the Steam-Rams in the Mersey.The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1233, p. 552.
November 28, 1863
The famous steam-rams El Tousson and El Monassir, which were built by Messrs. Laird, at Birkenhead, for, as is generally believed, the Confederate States of America, still lie in the Mersey, her Majesty's ship the Majestic keeping watch and ward over them. It is well known that Earl Russell, acting on representations made on behalf of the Federal Government, ordered these vessels to be seized, and the purposes for which they were constructed will consequently become the subject of a legal investigation. Neither vessel is finished, all work upon them having been suspended. El Tousson, however, wants but little to fit her for receiving her equipment, while El Monassir is in a comparatively backward state. The two rams are not unshapely in their hulls, but seem as well designed for swiftness as for strength. The length of each is 230 ft., the beam 42 ft., and the extreme depth less than 20 ft. The burden is but 1500 tons register, and the draught of each vessel when loaded will be some 15 ft., the deck being about 6 ft. above the waterline, all the intermediate surface being protected—first, by a coating of teak over the iron-skin of the ship, and then by armour-plates over that, each massive scale being 5 ½ in. thick. All this armour is dovetailed together so accurately that the joints are scarcely perceptible. The deck is of 5-in. teak, covered with iron, and the bulwarks are also of iron, being made so as to let down outwards, and thus to clear the decks during action. Two revolving cylindrical turrets, on the principles invented by Captain Coles, are apportioned to each ship, one turret being before and the other abaft her engine-room. There is also a pilot-house, strongly built of teak, and iron-plated. Each turret carries two guns, placed in close proximity, so that they can be brought to bear nearly in the same position at one time. The wall of the turret is a series of cellular spaces, like the chine of a shell-fish; and all these iron cells are to be filled up with teak, making one solid and uniform mass, which is to be again strengthened and rendered well-nigh impregnable by armour-plates. Each vessel is furnished with a powerful, sharp iron prow or beak, protruding from the bow under the water-line to enable the vessel to butt upon, to penetrate, and to damage an antagonist, somewhat in the way, though more effectually, that the Confederate ram Merrimac destroyed the Cumberland in the James River. It is from this feature in their construction that the name of "rams" has been given to these vessels. At each end of the vessel is a raised deck, forming tolerably commodious quarters for officers and men; and the forecastle is made to carry one or two heavy guns. In the captain's cabin are portholes for two 32-pounders. Their sterns will be so formed as to protect the screws and rudder from shot or collision. Each ram has capacity for 300 tons of coal. Our Engraving is from a drawing made by Mr. William Woods, of Queen's-road, Liverpool.