Wreck of USS Monitor

January 2021

Time to start the celebrations! More than 150 years ago, the USS Monitor made history during the battle of Hampton Roads. And 46 years ago tomorrow, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was designated to protect the resting time of this historic warship. Happy anniversary to Monitor National Marine Sanctuary!


Video opens to footage of the Monitor wreck, underwater and covered in barnacles, and surrounded by small fish. Instrumental music plays, and a blue banner appears in the upper left corner, reading,

“In 1975, the wreck of USS Monitor was designated as the nation's first national marine sanctuary, paving the way for a future network of protected areas in America's waters.”

A diver and schools of fish swim above the Monitor wreckage. Text reads,

“Today, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary continues to protect this famed Civil War ironclad.”

A painting of the Monitor exchanging fire during battle is shown

Another painting of the Monitor is pictured, exchanging fire with another ship. Text reads,

“At the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, Monitor's innovative design and rotating gun turret ushered in a new era of naval warfare.”

A painting of the Monitor sinking is shown. The sky is dark and there is another ship in the background. As waves crash over the sinking vessel, sailors climb aboard a rowboat. Text reads,

“On New Year’s Eve in 1862, Monitor sank during a raging storm off North Carolina, claiming the lives of 16 sailors.”

A black and white image of the Monitor’s crew fades into view, followed by another painting of the ship sinking.

A black and white photograph of a scientific vessel at sea is shown. Text reads,

“A century later, a scientific team from Duke University Marine Laboratory embarked on a large scale oceanographic expedition off North Carolina.”

Images of scientists holding research equipment and mapping coordinates are shown.

A sketched blueprint of the Monitor is displayed. Text reads,

“Among the expedition's goals: find the USS Monitor.”

A scientist is photographed pulling paper out of a device. Text reads,

“In August 1973, the team discovered a target they believed could be Monitor.”

Fuzzy images of a shipwreck are brought onto the screen. A scientist reviews equipment outputs, and early footage of the discovered shipwreck plays. Text reads,

“After months of reviewing video and photos, researchers confirmed that the USS Monitor's wreck site had been found.”

A pieced-together image of the Monitor’s wreckage appears

Current-day footage of the Monitor plays, and colorful fish swim around the wreckage. Instrumental background music swells dramatically. Text reads,

“The designation of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary on January 30, 1975, recognized the importance of protecting America’s national maritime heritage and conserving our ocean and Great Lakes.”

An aerial view of the Mariners' Museum is pictured, with a banner hanging that reads “The USS Monitor Center: America’s Premier Civil War Attraction”. Text appears, reading,

“Today, in partnership with NOAA, the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia conserves and showcases artifacts from the wreck.”

The camera pans over different aerial shots of the Museum, including a shot of the turret being sprayed down with water. Text reads,

“This includes the iconic nearly 22-foot diameter gun turret.”

The camera zooms in on the gun turret, and text reads,

“At the museum, visitors can experience firsthand one of the world’s most ambitious shipwreck conservation efforts.”

More footage of the museum is shown, including a lantern from one of its exhibits. Text reads,

“Through immersive exhibits, visitors can relive the history of the ship and sailors that changed history.”

Footage of the museum fades to black, and text appears on the screen, reading:

“For more information, visit monitor.noaa.gov”

The screen fades to black once more, and credits roll. The Earth is Blue logo appears first, followed by the link, “sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue”. The logos for NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuaries also appear, followed by text:

“Editor: Nick Zachar/ NOAA
Cinematography: John McCord/ UNC Coastal Studies Institute
Nick Zachar/ NOAA
Matt McIntosh/ NOAA
Music: Universal Production Music”