A Mystery is Solved!
July 12, 2002
The Monitor Expedition 2002 team made an important discovery on July 11. Navy divers, working with archaeologists from NOAA, uncovered one of the 16,000-pound cannons within the gun turret of the Monitor.
For years, many historians and Civil War buffs have speculated that as the Monitor rolled over and sank, its two 11-inch Dahlgren cannons broke free of the turret, fell to the seabed, and were buried beneath sand or the Monitors hull. Others though, including NOAAs sanctuary manager John Broadwater, and sanctuary historian Jeff Johnston, were confident that both cannons would be found inside the turret, still attached to their gun carriages.
Navy divers first uncovered a series of metal plates that Johnston immediately recognized as part of the recoil mechanism on the bottom of the carriage. That was all he needed to see to know that he was right. The cannons WERE inside the turret and attached to the gun carriages! Soon, divers had uncovered the muzzle end of the cannon barrel, which appears to be in line with the carriage.
Commander Bobbie Scholley called the discovery exciting, and an important piece of data for the expedition. This information is crucial to knowing if the cannons were inside the turret and how they are lying. Now, NOAA and the Navy can complete their plans for securing the cannons and carriages, which will allow them to make the final lift.
The team expects to uncover the second cannon today, along with the port stoppers, which are four-ton iron pendulums that covered the gunports when the guns were inside the turret.
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