NOAA research divers explore the Monitor's turret. These free-swimming divers have good mobility and can hover or swim over the wreck. (Monitor Collection, NOAA) Click image for larger view.
March 25 - August 17, 2001
The USS Monitor, launched early in the American Civil War, has been called the U.S. Navys first modern warship. In 1975, her sunken and rusting hull became Americas first national marine sanctuary.
These pages chronicle a five month effort by Navy divers to recover the Monitors innovative steam engine and a section of her hull. The Navy employed a wide range of technologies in this effort, which was one of the largest archaeological recovery projects ever conducted. Monitor 2001 consisted of five expeditions to the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, conducted in three phases. Each phase involved personnel from NOAA, the U.S. Navy, The Mariners Museum and other organizations.
Background information for this exploration can be found on the left side of the page. Weekly updates are included below. More detailed logs of exploration activities can be found on the right.
Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs.
Aug 24 The 2001 mission has come to a successful conclusion. Listen to Maritime historian Jeff Johnston of the USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary discuss the mission objectives for the planned recovery of the ship's turret next year.
At long last the engine of the USS Monitor
was presented by NOAA to the Mariners' Museum. John Broadwater greeted an ethusiastic crowd at the welcoming ceremony. Read John's log
. Jeff Johnston has also provided his perspective on night diving
The engine arrived at the Newport News Shipbuilding on July 18, and now awaits a transfer to The Mariners Museum in Newport News, VA. After the engine arrives at the museum, it will undergo a lengthy conservation process. Read about the completion of Phase II.
The lifting of the Monitor's
engine was no simple task. It took years of planning and a coordinated recovery effort involving many project partners. This log entry explains in greater detail how the engine was recovered.
The engine has been recovered! For the first time in 140 years, the 30-ton steam engine of the shipwrecked Civil War Ironclad, USS Monitor,
broke the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The NOAA team and scores of Navy divers worked around the clock for 28 days to free the engine from 240 ft below the surface of the ocean. The engine was placed on a barge and will be brought to The Mariners Museum where it will be placed in a 93,000 gallon steel tank so conservators can begin a 10-year process to preserve the historic engine. Read a first-hand account.
July 13 Phase II continues with Navy divers and the Monitor sanctuary team making much progress in their recovery efforts.
Phase II is well underway. This week the dive team began attaching the main lifting slings to the Monitor
engine. Amongst other artifacts, divers also retrieved a completely intact engine room thermometer. This precious artifact is currently in safe storage, happily reporting a temperature of 82 degrees! Due to poor weather conditions, the team anticipates that the engine should be ready for removal by mid-July. Read a status report.
The dive team continues to recover Monitor
artifacts, including a section of the subsurface, forced-air ventilation system (state-of-the-art in its time). Recovered artifacts have been shipped to the Mariners' Museum for restoration. News teams from ABC and NBC, plus regional newspapers, have increased their coverage of the mission. Review the ABC clip.
The barge arrived on site and 24-hour dive operations have begun. Navy divers have recovered many artifacts, and removed a keel plate that exposed the engine. The team is on schedule for an engine recovery operation in early July. Read the June 19 Status Report
The team has completed Phase I operations.
With excellent sea conditions, Navy divers began the arduous task of installing heavy hydraulic rams, chains, and cables required for raising the Monitors
engine. They came across an unexpected challenge. Read about it in the May 6 Log
The Navy team aboard the USS Grapple
began deploying four large buoys to form a 1/4-mile square around the wreck. The four-point mooring system provides a diving platform for the JuneJuly engine recovery expedition. Read an account of this leg
The NOAA research team has recovered data and artifacts from the wreck of the Monitor,
including a bayonet handle and whale-oil chimneys. Read the Progress Report
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