Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor’s launch from the Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, New York. The USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the US Navy and on March 9, 1862 fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, only a day after Virginia had ravaged the Union fleet blockading the James River. Less than nine months later, the now-famous Monitor was under tow, heading south to Beaufort, North Carolina, when, in heavy seas, the vessel sank, taking sixteen of its crew with it.
John D. Broadwater, author of USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage, (Texas A&M Press, March) was the manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, where he directed seven major expeditions to the remains of the Civil War ironclad warship. Not until 1973 was the inverted hulk located, and in 1995, partial recovery of the wreck began under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the US Navy. The story of the subsequent protection and management of the historic resource, and the raising of major hull components including the gun turret, add another layer of history to the Monitor’s fascinating story.