U.S. LIGHT CRUISERS IN ACTION
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The ideas that brought about cruiser designs were developed during the 1600s when it became apparent that trade ships would need protection from marauding pirates. These new ships, known as frigates, were up-gunned and carried a full rig of sails. Conceivably, any ship they could not outrun, they could outfight. By the beginning of 19th Century, frigates roamed the world's oceans in search of pirates and perhaps just as often — other frigates.
During the transition period of the late 1800s, two types of cruisers were being constructed 'protected' and "armored". The British were the first to construct a protected cruiser HMS ESMlRALDA. The protected cruiser carried both belt (side) and deck armor, while the armored cruiser carried only deck armor, By the beginning of World War I, most cruisers under construction were of the armored type.
The first US ships to be classified as cruisers were the WAMPANOAG class of the Federal Navy during the American Civil War (1861-1865). The WAMPANOAG class were built of wood and powered by both sail and steam. The sails provided a long range, while the steam provided speed and maneuverability. This combination gave the cruisers the choice of fighting or retiring to engage at a more advantageous time...
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