In 1865 at the conclusion of the American Civil War, the United States Navy was of significant size and strength. However, the vast bulk of her ironclads were shallow draft monitors, suitable only for coastal work. At this point the USN went into hibernation and precipitous decline. The years that followed saw a greatly reduced establishment and minuscule budgets. The country was not interested in a navy. By the 1870s the USN had to disguise funding for new construction, by claiming that it was for repairs of the civil war warships.
Five new monitors were the products of this period. All were advanced as repairs of civil war monitors but were in fact new construction. Since money for construction came in penny packets, the construction for these five spanned decades. The four ship Amphitrite Class were laid down in 1874-1875. Except for Miantonomoh, which was finished in 1891, the class took 21 to 22 years to complete, as they did in 1895-1896. The Puritan was the fifth and largest monitor of this period. Laid down in 1876, the Puritan displaced 6,060 tons and mounted four twelve-inch guns. She too took 20 years to build, finishing in 1896.
The rebirth of the USN and emergence of the New Navy started in the late 1880s. In addition to cruisers, the USN started constructing armored big gun vessels. In 1888 the first of these, USS Maine, was laid down. In 1889 two more heavily armored vessels were started. One was the 2nd rank battleship Texas and the other was another monitor, the USS Monterey.
Monterey was a much more modern, scaled down version of the Puritan, mounting two twelve-inch guns in the forward turret and two ten-inch guns in the rear turret. Monterey was completed at Union Iron Works in California in 1893. During the Spanish-American War she was sent to the Philippines. It took Monterey two months to make the 8,000 mile voyage, in which she was towed half the way by the collier, Brutus. Monterey served with the Asiatic squadron until 1917, when she became the station ship at Pearl Harbor. The old monitor was finally sold in 1921.
Through the good offices of Iron Shipwright the USS Monterey sails again. This 1:350 scale model of the monitor is now available. Even now they are being turned out in ISW's yard in Rochester, NY to guard against a descent of ruffians from Bowmanville, Ontario, across the lake from Rochester.