Beyond the Frame: Something to Remember

Posted on
“USS Monitor Wreck, 2002, Graveyard of the Atlantic” by Michael “Simo” Simonetti. Oil on canvas, 2013. | The Mariners’ Museum and Park, 2013.0003.000001.

He sinks down deeper and deeper. All around him it’s blue, blue, blue, blue. At this depth all red, yellow, and orange light is filtered out. It’s dark, like you’re in a gray room with only two small windows. And then – there it is – it begins to come into view. Hulking and cave like, upside down and covered in marine growth.

It could almost look natural if you didn’t know what this was. He steps along the seafloor, it’s solid but the sediment still billows slightly with each step. Then he moves forward, slowly, gently – hand outstretched.    Read more

An Uplifting Story: Recovering Monitor’s Artifacts

Posted on
Image on the left shows the location of USS Monitor’s wreck site. Image on right shows an artist’s rendition of the ironclad turning over during its sinking. Courtesy of NOAA, Monitor Collection.

On December 31, 1862, USS Monitor was caught in a storm and sank 16 nautical miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in more than 230 feet of water. It is believed the vessel went down stern first, turning over so that its revolutionary 120-ton revolving gun turret separated and became pinned under the ship on the seafloor. Monitor’s remains were discovered in 1973, confirmed in 1974, and in 1975 the wreck was placed under the jurisdiction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with the establishment of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. 

Archaeological investigations and recovery of small objects began in the 1970s and into the early 1980s. The first artifact found was the turret’s red signal lantern – the last thing the crew saw before the ship sank beneath the waves! Other artifacts recovered included wood fragments, a glass jar full of relish, and Monitor’s anchor. In 1987, recognizing these artifacts needed a home, The Mariners’ was designated as the repository for their management and curation.   Read more

Worden and the Rattlesnake

Posted on
Lt. John L. Worden, USN.
The Mariners’ Museum MS 16-14.

Commander John Worden would expand his leadership skills during the early days of his command of the Passaic-class ironclad USS Montauk. Shortly after the Montauk arrived in Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont sent Worden and his ironclad to bombard Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia. Du Pont planned to test the destructive and resistance capabilities of Passaic–class ironclads in preparation for an ironclad attack on Charleston, South Carolina. 

During the February 28, 1863 attack, Montauk’s XV- and XI-inch Dahlgrens were able to destroy the former commerce raider CSS Nashville. Worden was pleased with his destruction of “this troublesome pest”; however, Montauk suffered a massive jolt when it struck a Confederate torpedo en route down the Ogeechee River. Worden’s quick thinking saved his ironclad, and he, the hero of USS Monitor, received even greater laurels for his newest decisive actions.    Read more