A watercolor of the USS Dictator by Oscar Parks
|Builder:||Delamater Iron Works, New York|
|Laid down:||16 August 1862|
|Launched:||26 December 1863|
|Commissioned:||11 November 1864|
|Decommissioned:||1 June 1877|
|Struck:||5 September 1865|
|Reinstated:||20 July 1869|
|Fate:||Sold, 27 September 1883|
|Displacement:||4,438 long tons (4,509 t)|
|Length:||312 ft (95 m)|
|Beam:||50 ft (15 m)|
|Draft:||20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Complement:||174 officers and enlisted|
|Armament:||2 × 15 in (380 mm) Dahlgren smoothbores|
USS Dictator was a single-turreted ironclad monitor, designed to be a high speed open sea monitor. Originally to be named the Protector, the Navy Department preferred a more aggressive name. On 1 April 1862, John Ericsson proposed to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Gustavus Fox, Dictator "a name which I respectfully request for the new Ocean Monarch." It was a sister ship of the USS Puritan.
Dictator was laid down on 16 August 1862. Dictator was launched 26 December 1863 by Delamater Iron Works, New York, NY, under contract with John Ericsson. The ship was commissioned on 11 November 1864, under the command of Commander J. Rodgers, with a crew 174. It was built for a cost of $1,393,566.49 dollars.
The Dictator was a single-turret monitor, bigger than the a normal monitor made for coastal battles ,and with less overhang. The Dictator's design had a tall funnel and tall ventilation shaft; it is thought that there was a light hurricane deck amidships. The Dictator's speed was to be 15 knots, but this was not reached. The design was overweight, reducing fre-board to 16 inches. The main shaft bearings were too short, resulting in excessive wear. It was designed to carry 1,000 tons of coal. There was plans to build the Dictator with two 20 inch (510 mm) caliber smoothbores, however due to John Ericsson's intervention, it was single turreted.
Construction problems with her powerplant kept her initial service relatively brief and inactive. Assigned to duty with North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Dictator cruised on the Atlantic coast from 15 December 1864 until placed out of commission 5 September 1865 at League Island Navy Yard. She remained in ordinary there until 1869.
The ship was recommissioned on 20 July 1869, with a repair cost of $59,654.27. Dictator served with the North Atlantic Fleet until 28 June 1871 when she was again placed out of commission. She was in ordinary at New York Navy Yard until 12 January 1874 when she was commissioned for service on the North Atlantic Station. Dictator was decommissioned at League Island on 1 June 1877 and remained there until sold on 27 September 1883, to A. Purvis & Son, for a cost of $40,250 dollars.
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