NOAA launches USS Monitor 150th anniversary website

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has launched a new website highlighting the 150-year history of the USS Monitor on the anniversary of the ship’s launch.

The website, http://monitor.noaa.gov/150th, takes viewers from the iconic warship’s construction through its recovery to recent science expeditions undertaken to protect its legacy. The website, also offers students, teachers and history enthusiasts a variety of education materials and a calendar of upcoming events celebrating the Monitor.

“This is a momentous year for an influential piece of American history,” David Alberg, superintendent of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, said. Feb. 6. “While today marks the 150th anniversary of the launching of the USS Monitor, we will continue to mark important dates throughout the year, including the Battle of Hampton Roads and the sinking of the USS Monitor, through special public events.”

Designed by Swedish-born engineer and inventor John Ericsson, the USS Monitor was a Civil War-era Union ironclad warship that revolutionized naval warfare with innovations such as its low profile, iron armored deck, and rotating gun turret. The Monitor is best known for its battle with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia off Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. Their battle marked the first time iron ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden warships.

Feb. 6 is the 150th anniversary of the ship’s launch. The ship eventually sank later that year, on Dec. 31.

In addition to highlighting the Monitor’s innovations, the website profiles some of the people associated with it, including Ericsson, the captain and crew. The 1974 discovery of the Monitor is featured along with the recovery of the vessel’s turret and ongoing conservation of Monitor artifacts.

“The artifacts that are currently undergoing restoration continue to tell new stories,” Alberg said. “We are discovering new facts about her crew, and we regularly collect contemporary data on the remains of the shipwreck itself. The new website really captures the past, present, and future of the USS Monitor.”

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary also is celebrating its 37th anniversary. On Jan. 30, 1975, the site of the USS Monitor shipwreck was designated as the Nation’s first national marine sanctuary. Creation of the sanctuary, located 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., has helped ensure the long-term protection of the wreck site of the famed Civil War ironclad for all generations.

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