- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2002

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. A $6.5 million federal grant will support the government's expedition this summer to recover the gun turret from the wreckage of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.
The Department of Defense will provide the money through its Defense Legacy Resource Management Program, which deals with natural and cultural resources related to the military.
"None of the projects that are being operated through this legacy program has as deep a cultural and historical significance and a military significance as the Monitor project," said John Paul Woodley, assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for environment.
He made the announcement Friday at the Mariners' Museum, the official repository for Monitor artifacts.
The steam-driven Monitor revolutionized naval warfare when it fought the Confederate warship Virginia to a draw in March 1862 near Newport News in the first battle of ironclads ships covered in iron plates to repel cannon balls.
The Monitor sank in the Atlantic Ocean while being towed to North Carolina on Dec. 31, 1862, killing all 16 men aboard. The ship lies upside down in 240 feet of water, 16 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C.
Divers have been going to the site each summer since 1995 to salvage parts of the ship. The entire ship is too fragile to raise.
The steam engine was the main artifact recovered last summer. It is being conserved at the Mariners' Museum, along with other items from the ship.
The main mission of this summer's joint Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expedition will be to recover the turret. The turret was the first revolving armored gun that, in modern form, is standard on warships today.
The expeditions provide training for Navy divers who may be deployed to salvage operations anywhere in the world, said Capt. Christopher Murray, supervisor of diving with the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The largest artifact recovered so far is the 40-ton steam engine, which was among more than 250 items removed from the wreckage last summer. It is being conserved in an outdoor water tank at the museum, which plans to open a $30 million USS Monitor Center in 2007.
The main mission of this summer's joint Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expedition will be to recover the 120-ton turret and its two 11-inch Dahlgren cannons, each weighing 13,000 pounds.
The turret held the first revolving armored gun. It is 22 feet in diameter and 9 feet tall, and it is made of eight concentric layers of 1-inch-thick iron plate riveted together.

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