The USS Monitor was built 150 years ago, and changed warship design forever.  Monitors as such didn't replace the world's navies, but being clad in armor did, and all warships that followed had many of her design achievements, including rotating turrets, armor, and steam engines.  Monitors themselves were limited by shallow draft to operating close to land, but the design caught on and was used up to WW2 by the British Navy, and there was even a homemade river monitor used in Vietnam by the Americans.

Picture from deck of USS Monitor

The wreck of the USS Monitor was discovered during the 1970's, and since then parts have been brought up and are being reconstucted and restored by the National Maritime Museum.  During the recovery of the turret, human remains were found of 2 crewmembers, which were shipped off to Louisiana State University for identification.  No DNA matches were found among living relatives of the known crewmembers, and now they are working on facial reconstruction to help identify the deceased.  On Tuesday, March 6, the Maritime Museum will release the photos in a bid that some photo in someone's attic will match.  It's a long shot, and the remains will be shipped off to Arlington for an appropriate internment.

Picture of Monitor versus Merrimac

The wreck is disintegrating on the sea floor, but some of the artifacts brought up are already looking better, the steam engine is cleaned up, they are working on the turret and one of the massive Dahlgren XI guns looks ready to go.  It is a huge amount of work, but the results are worth it, and it is a treat to see the technologies of earlier times, and imagine the lives of the men who used them.

Picture of Dahlgren Gun


National Maritime Sanctuaries

The Mariner's Museum Monitor Blog

Vietnam Riverboat page

NOAA Monitor site