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Auction offers USS Monitor gun turret experience

 USS Monitor photo courtesy of Mariner's Museum.

USS Monitor photo courtesy of Mariner's Museum.

The Virginia museum that is home to the USS Monitor's turret is offering the opportunity to be inside the revolving gun housing of the Civil War ironclad on the anniversary of the final hour before it sank 150 years ago.

The Monitor sank between midnight Dec. 30 and 1 a.m. Dec. 31 in 1862 in rough seas southeast of Cape Hatteras. Sixteen of the Monitor's 52 crew members died. When the turret was raised from the ocean bottom, two skeletons were discovered in its rusted hulk.

The Mariner's Museum in Newport News and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary launched an online auction for up to six people to hunker down in history on Dec. 30 and 31. The eBay auction will remain open until 6 p.m. on Dec. 2.

The eBay auction winner and 5 guests will receive the following experience beginning at 7 p.m.:

  • Unique hands-on tour inside the Monitor’s revolving gun turret at approximately the same time the ship sank in 1862
  • Catered, entertaining evening with Monitor experts and conservation staff
  • Memorial ceremony narrating the events surrounding the Monitor’s sinking
  • One-year Family Membership to The Mariners’ Museum
  • Hotel lodging (up to three rooms) for the night of Dec. 30
  • Transportation to the hotel following the experience
  • Framed commemorative photo of the winner and guests inside the Monitor’s turret

The bidding opened at $1,000 with an undisclosed reserve price. Proceeds from the auction will support the conservation of Monitor artifacts. The turret's conservation alone costs $2,000 a day. 100% of the proceeds from this auction will go to The USS Monitor Center at The Mariners' Museum to directly support the critical ongoing conservation of over 200 tons of artifacts recovered from NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.


About the USS Monitor

The Brooklyn-made Monitor made nautical history, fighting in the first battle between two ironclads in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862. The Monitor's confrontation with the CSS Virginia ended in a draw. The Virginia, built on the carcass of the U.S. Navy frigate USS Merrimack, was the Confederate answer to the Union's ironclad ships.

The Monitor sank about nine months later in rough seas southeast of Cape Hatteras while it was under tow by the USS Rhode Island. Dubbed a "cheese box on a raft,'' the Monitor was not designed for sailing on rough water. The crew of the Rhode Island was able to rescue about 50 survivors.

The wreck was discovered in 1973 and designated the first national marine sanctuary in 1975. An expedition about a decade ago retrieved the revolving turret.

Visit the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners' Museum:

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