NOAA 2000-414
Contact: Connie Barclay


Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and divers from the U.S. Navy's Mobile Diving Salvage Unit Two (MDSU-2) recovered the USS Monitor's skeg, a large beam that supported her propeller shaft and rudder, on July 28th. The previous day, a ten-foot section of the Monitor's propeller shaft was recovered, clearing a pathway into the engine room of this famous Civil War ironclad. These massive artifacts from the USS Monitor were delivered yesterday to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va., after being successfully removed during the second phase of a three-phase expedition.

"NOAA is very pleased with the results from this phase of the Expedition and we are grateful to the Navy's diving unit for the outstanding job they did," said Dr. John Broadwater, NOAA's chief scientist for Monitor 2000 and manager of NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary "This is a significant accomplishment for NOAA and its partners to recover and preserve a important part of our Nation's 19th century maritime history."

"We've demonstrated that as a team we can respond quickly and effectively to preserve our cultural resources and based on this year's expedition, we're confident that we will successfully recover and preserve more of the Monitor's vital components in the near future.

On the Navy's role in the expedition, CDR Phil Beierl, MDSU-2 Commanding Officer, stated, "The Navy's mission in Monitor 2000 was a great success, providing Navy salvage forces invaluable experience in planning and conducting complex deep-diving operations in the most challenging conditions. To have accomplished this while helping to preserve an American historic treasure is very satisfying."

The skeg, shaft, and three smaller artifacts arrived in excellent condition at The Mariners' Museum late Monday night after undergoing a logistically difficult journey from the Naval Amphibious Base in Little Creek, Va. The artifacts were transported via water on an Army landing craft to Army Transportation Headquarters at Fort Eustis, Va., then by truck to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News. The Mariners' Museum is NOAA's principal museum for all Monitor artifacts and documents.

The 28-foot long, 7,000-pound, iron skeg is an extension of the keel, providing support for the vessel's rudder and propeller. The ten-foot section of the Monitor's propeller shaft eventually may be attached to the shaft segment recovered in 1998 and to the skeg, thus reconstructing the external portion of the Monitor's propulsion system.

The primary goals for Phase 2 of the Monitor 2000 Expedition were the stabilization of the Monitor's hull with specially-fabricated cement bags, the deployment of the three-component, 100-ton engine recovery structure, and the preparation of the Monitor's steam engine for recovery. These goals were met, and now the NOAA team is concentrating on archaeological survey and excavation tasks that will further prepare the engine for recovery.

The USS Monitor sank on New Years Eve, 1862, sixteen miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C. The ship is best known for dueling the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia to a draw during the first naval battle involving ironclad ships on March 9, 1862. The ship remained undiscovered for 111 years. The nation's first national marine sanctuary was established in 1975 in the waters surrounding the wreck to protect this historical treasure. NOAA's National Ocean Service manages the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Program.

Monitor 2000 is a continuation of NOAA's efforts since 1998 to preserve portions of the disintegrating Monitor, as outlined in the long-range preservation plan, "Charting a New Course for the Monitor." Recovery of selected components of the Monitor will continue over the next several years. The remainder of the Monitor 2000 Expedition can be followed on line at:

For background information on the USS Monitor please contact Mike Murphy at (301) 713-3141, ext. 169 or Connie Barclay at (301) 713-3070.