The Monitor crew poses with the ship in 1862. Note the dents in the Monitor's turret sustained during the Battle of Hampton Roads. Image courtesy of the Naval Historical Center.
The year 1862 was a big one for the USS Monitor. It was the year that this Civil War-era Union ironclad warship launched. It was also the year that she sank. In between, the Monitor was busy.
With innovations such as its low profile, iron-armored deck, and rotating gun turret, the USS Monitor was a revolution in naval warfare. On March 9, 1862, the Monitor put those innovations to the test in a battle with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia off Hampton Roads, Virginia. Their battle marked the first time iron ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden warships.
While the Battle of Hampton Roads was not the undoing of the Monitor, she did sink on December 31, 1862. Today, her final resting place off the coast of North Carolina is protected within the boundaries of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.
Throughout the year, in recognition of this important part of our nation’s history, NOAA will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor. A new website highlights the history of the ship and tells the tales of the innovations and the people associated with the Monitor. The website also chronicles the recovery and conservation of Monitor artifacts and provides information about public events to commemorate this iconic ship throughout the year.
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was designated on January 30, 1975, as the nation’s first marine sanctuary. Creation of the sanctuary, located 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, has helped ensure the long-term protection of the Monitor shipwreck for all generations.