NOAA and Partners to Conduct Survey of Civil War Ironclad USS Monitor

June 22, 2009

USS Monitor.

USS Monitor.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA and partnering organizations are deploying scuba divers and state-of-the-art technology this week to study the current condition of the USS Monitor, a Civil War shipwreck protected by a NOAA national marine sanctuary.

During the expedition, which concludes June 28, divers will survey and photograph visible sections of the Monitor using non-invasive techniques, including high-resolution digital still and video imagery. Deep Explorers and Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science (IMCS) will also deploy an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that will scan the wreck using sonar and collect water quality data. This is the first time a survey of this type will be conducted over the Monitor wreck site and the surrounding area. NOAA will use the information gathered during the survey to monitor the condition of the historic vessel and the sanctuary.

“This expedition will be invaluable to the Monitor,” said David W. Alberg, superintendent of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. “The information collected during this expedition will be crucial to our efforts to continue preservation of this historic shipwreck.”

The expedition is supported through contributions of time, equipment and other support by various individuals and corporations, including Rutgers IMCS, Aqualung USA, Silent Diving Systems, Deep Outdoors, TMBA Broadcast Animation, O.C. Diver, Margie II, Sartek Industries, Sony XDCAM, Sony HDV and Fujinon Optics.

To learn more about the expedition and to read daily mission logs, visit the USS Monitor 2009 Mission site.

The USS Monitor is located in 230 feet of water 16 miles off Cape Hatteras, N.C., where the ship sank on a stormy New Year’s Eve in 1862. In an effort to protect the nation’s most famous ironclad, the shipwreck was designated the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary on January 30, 1975. In the late 1990s through 2002, several iconic Monitor artifacts were recovered and are being conserved at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.