6 June 2022: A few years back, we posted some pictures and the story of the U.S. Ironclad Monitor, the famed start of the "modern" navy - as far a ship construction is concerned. She fought the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia (nee Merrimack) in Hampton Roads VA during the American Civil War. Neither won but the concept of iron cladding a ship was proved beyond a doubt. Monitor, during a tow offshore in December of 1862, was overwhelmed with storm seas and was cut lose from her towing vessel as she began to sink. Here is some further info on the wreck following the recovery of her turret (which is on display in the Newport News (VA) maritime museum. It's from the Center Daily Times.
One of the nation’s most revered military shipwrecks was visited in May by a NOAA-backed team and they made a surprising discovery 16 miles off North Carolina. The Civil War ironclad USS Monitor is apparently refusing to surrender to the forces of nature. Despite being on the seafloor since 1862, the first-of-its-kind ship remains in “an excellent state of preservation,” according to Tane Renata Casserley, resource protection and permit coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. That’s all the more surprising given Navy divers made significant intrusions into the shipwreck in 2002, when they recovered the highly prized turret and other artifacts for preservation, he said. “The wreck is in an astounding condition after being on the seafloor for 160 years and weathering all of the environmental conditions off Cape Hatteras, including exceedingly strong currents and hurricanes,” Casserley told McClatchy News.
“During those (2002) projects, it was necessary to cut into the ironclad’s armorbelt, hull, and deck to gain access to the turret since the shipwreck was on top of it. The question for us at NOAA was, did those cuts into the shipwreck cause further deterioration? Would we see significant changes caused by these actions today?” The answer to those questions “was a resounding ‘No’,” he said. It’s a revelation that begs explanation, and Casserley has a theory.
I have visited the museum and seen the artifacts - amazing to behold - and the reproductions of the two combatants. A site we can unequivocally recommend should you find yourself in or around Newport News. And as a "P.S.": the prefix USS (United States Ship) was not in common use until January, 1907 (Pres Theodore Roosevelt) and clearly, not during the Civil War as, obviously, the country was NOT the United States!
Until next time,