The wales and the ramming timber are designed to interlock for extra strength.The bottom of the ram features a mortise cut into the ramming timber to fit the most forward end of the keel which was formed into a 4-centimetre (1.6 in) thick and 10-centimetre (3.9 in) long tenon.The surface of the ram was decorated with several symbols.It is attached with mortise and tenon joints and strengthened with 15-millimetre (0.6 in) oak pegs.The first coastal battleship, France's Taureau, was built in 1863, for the purpose of attacking warships at anchor or in narrow straits, and was armed with a ram.Many ironclad ships were designed specifically to ram opponents; in ships of this type, the armour belt was extended forward to brace both sides of the ram to increase structural integrity.It was believed that an armoured warship could not be seriously damaged by the naval artillery in existence at the time, even at close range.To achieve a decisive result in a naval engagement, therefore, alternative methods of action were believed to be necessary.
As navies became more dependent on sailing ships, which do neither well, rams were generally discarded, particularly as gunpowder increased the range at which ships could effectively attack one another.
The ram comprises three sections – the driving centre, the bottom plate, and the cowl.
The driving centre is 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 76 centimetres (30 in) wide.
This would be driven into the hull of an enemy ship in order to puncture it and thus sink, or at least disable, the ship. The ram has damage attributed to collision(s) with Roman ships (ram against ram).
Carthaginian naval ram from the Battle of the Aegates (First Punic War, 241 B. It carries a 35-character Punic inscription, offered as a supplication to the god Baal and Actium.
There is evidence available to suggest that it existed much earlier, probably even before the 8th century BC.