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Contact: Connie Barclay
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrapped-up the Monitor 2000 Expedition with the announcement that next summer it plans to recover the USS Monitor's steam engine and begin the process of recovering the Civil War ironclad's trademark gun turret.
The Monitor 2000 Expedition ended on August 10 with the recovery of several artifacts from the wreck of the famous Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. These artifacts, exposed by strong bottom currents, include an ironstone pitcher, a ceramic drawer pull, and a brass hinge. All recovered artifacts were delivered to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va., NOAA's principal museum for all Monitor artifacts and documents. The artifacts will undergo conservation treatment before being placed on exhibit. The propeller, recovered in 1998, is still in treatment, and can be viewed by visitors to the museum.
"We are a giant step closer to the recovery of the Monitor's engine and turret," said Dan Basta, acting director of the National Marine Sanctuary Program. "This is an exciting time for the program and a landmark feat in the preservation of our nation's maritime history."
The accomplishments of the Monitor 2000 Expedition were stabilization of the Monitor's hull with specially-fabricated bags filled with cement, deployment of the three-component, 90-ton engine recovery structure, recovery of two major components of the Monitor's propulsion system and other artifacts, and preparation of the Monitor's steam engine for recovery.
In preparation for the engine recovery, the engine recovery structure was set in place over the Monitor this year, so in 2001 it will only be necessary to lower the engine lifting frame from the ERS, attach lifting straps from the frame to the Monitor's engine compartment, cut the hull and piping connections, and raise the ERS and engine to the surface. Time and funds permitting, a section of the Monitor's armor belt will also be removed to provide access to the gun turret, the ultimate goal of the current recovery efforts. The turret could be recovered as early as 2002.
This year, the Navy recovered two components of the Monitor's propulsion system: the skeg and a segment of propeller shaft. 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 just recovered eventually may be reattached to the shaft segment recovered by the Navy in 1998.
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 between ironclad warships 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.
The Navy phase of Monitor 2000 was funded by a grant from the Department of Defense Legacy Foundation. Additional expedition sponsors and participants included Oceaneering International, The Mariners' Museum, the National Geographic Society, Newport News Shipbuilding, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, the U.S. Coast Guard, Hatteras Landing Marina, the Cambrian Foundation, National Undersea, Research Center/University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the Program in Maritime Studies at East Carolina University and Sartek Industries.
The expedition log and other information
on the Monitor 2000 Expedition
For background information on the USS Monitor contact Matt Stout at (301) 713-3125 Ext. 173 or Dina Hill at (757) 599-3122.