When talking about strange and unusual shapes used for warships throughout human history, the Russian Monitor Novgorod falls somewhere high on that list. Notoriously known as the “frisbee”, the Novgorod was large and quite heavy for its size. The circular design of the warship allowed it to carry bigger guns than other ships of the same size but that also meant that it had more shortcomings because of the unconventional design. In the end, Imperial Russia ended up having the warship guard the coastline instead of taking it to the high seas.
The Novgorod, built in the 1870s, was known as an experimental vessel as it was designed with the knowledge of wide beam having increased buoyancy as compared to a knife-shaped one. This led to the creation of the circular warship hull that was immediately built by Russia’s shipbuilders. The result was a warship perfectly round in shape, with a length of 101 feet and a beam of the same measurement. She displaced about 2500 long tons while maintaining a draft of just 13.5 feet. Comparing with an Independence-class littoral combat ship serving with the U.S Navy which is 418 feet long and displaces 3100 tons, the Novgorod only being 101 feet long wasn’t far behind in displacement.
The Russian warship was well-armed for her time. The warship carried two 11-inch rifled muzzle-loading guns, compared to other Russian monitors that only carried a pair of small nine-inch guns. But unfortunately, the circular hull was not as successful as it was thought to be. The peculiar shape made it inefficient at sea, resulting in only 6.5 knots of top speed. The heavy build also slowed down the turning of the ship, which hindered the engagement of moving targets. At last, Novgorod and her successor, Vitseadmiral Popov, were retired to coastal defense duties and protecting Russia’s 24,000 mile coastline from enemy attacks, before getting decommissioned at the start of the 20th century.