- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) The silt-packed turret of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor was raised yesterday from the Atlantic floor, nearly 140 years after the historic warship sank during a New Year's storm.
The turret, the largest and last retrievable artifact, was raised at the end of a heavy cable attached to a crane on a 300-foot-long work barge.
A Civil War-era U.S. flag fluttered from the lifting frame and water poured out of the turret as it hung over the ocean before it was lowered onto the barge deck.
Workers and divers aboard the barge cheered as the turret was swung to a cradle, and a Navy helicopter carrying military photographers hovered overhead.
The turret raising was the climax of a multiyear salvage operation run by the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which controls the underwater sanctuary where the wreckage is located.
This year's expedition cost $6.5 million. Last year, the Navy and NOAA spent $4.3 million to raise the ship's steam engine.
"It's fantastic," said John Broadwater, NOAA's director of the Monitor sanctuary. "It's sitting on the barge and we're looking at dents that the Virginia put on it March 9, 1862."
On that date, the Monitor and the Confederate vessel CSS Virginia revolutionized naval warfare when they fought an inconclusive battle near Newport News, Va. It was the first battle in naval history between two ironclad warships.
The Monitor's revolving cylindrical turret allowed the crew to maneuver the ship out of harm's way while maintaining accurate fire by adjusting the turret. The Virginia had to be steered into position to allow its guns to fire accurately.
Mr. Broadwater said the barge probably would leave this morning for the 1-day trip to Newport News.
A crane capable of lifting a 500-ton load was used to pull the turret from 240 feet of water. Eight anchors held the barge steady over the site and the anchors had to be repositioned Sunday afternoon, a process that took several hours in 2- to 4-foot waves.
Before the turret was lifted, a heavy cable lifting harness was lowered to the wreckage and connected to eight points on the custom-made steel claw attached to the 120-ton turret. The turret was lifted slightly and positioned on a platform designed to support the aging, 20-foot-diameter turret as it was lifted.
On Saturday, divers were able to remove much of a human skeleton found inside the turret. It was believed to be that of one of the 16 Monitor sailors who died when the ship sank in a storm on Dec. 31, 1862.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide