Torpedo boat

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A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other large, slow and heavily armed ships by speed and agility.

The torpedo as we know it was invented in 1860 by Captain Giovanni Luppis (also known as Ivan Blaz Lupis) in the city of Rijeka, Croatia, then part of the former Austria-Hungary. It was first shown to the public in 1860; in 1866 he demonstrated his work together with Robert Whitehead. The first torpedo factory was built in Rijeka.


American Civil War

The American Civil War saw a number of innovations in naval warfare, including the first torpedo boats, which carried spar torpedoes. In 1861 President Lincoln instituted a naval blockade of Southern ports, which crippled the South's efforts to obtain war materials from abroad. The South also lacked the means to construct a naval fleet capable of taking on the Union Navy. One strategy to counter the blockade saw the development of torpedo boats, small fast boats designed to attack the larger capital ships of the blockading fleet.

The David class of torpedo boats were steam powered with a partially enclosed hull. They were not true submarines but were semi-submersible; when ballasted, only the smokestack and few inches of the hull were above the water line. On a dark night, and burning smokeless anthracite coal, the torpedo boats were virtually invisible. The Davids were named after the story of David and Goliath. The CSS Midge and CSS St. Patrick were David-class torpedo boats.

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