In an effort to begin stabilizing the deteriorating hull of U.S.S. Monitor, the sunken Civil War ironclad ship off Cape Hatteras
, N.C., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Navy will undertake a data-collection mission to assess what needs to be done.
This archaeological and engineering mission will take place at the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, which was established in 1975 to provide protection for the ship. The mission is sponsored by NOAA, the Navy, and The Mariners' Museum.
"Mission goals include surveying and assessing Monitor's lower hull, assessing the feasibility and difficulty of removing the steam engine, and testing the feasibility of using divers to install cement bags for hull shoring and stabilization," said John Broadwater, manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. "Navy divers will carry out the tasks, operating from salvage ship U.S.S Grasp."
Recent evidence has alerted NOAA the collapse of Monitor's hull is imminent, a result of both natural and human causes. In response to this critical situation, NOAA developed a long-range planning document, Charting a New Course for Monitor. Submitted to Congress in April 1998, the plan specifies a combination of stabilizing Monitor's hull and recovery of selected components of the ship, including the propeller, engine, guns and turret. The first phase of the recommended option was completed during the 1998 Monitor expedition.
U.S.S Monitor, one of the most significant ships in U.S. history, has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Marine Sanctuary. Artifacts recovered from Monitor during past expeditions are displayed at The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va.