We Rescued the Monitor: How a NOAA-led Team Recovered USS Monitor's Most Famous Components

August 2, 2022

Join Dr. John Broadwater, former Superintendent of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, as he recounts the efforts of NOAA, the U.S. Navy, The Mariners' Museum and Park, and other agencies to recover the most famous and important components of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

Monitor was discovered in 1973, lying 16 miles off the North Carolina coast. In 1975, the wreck was designated America's first national marine sanctuary. A series of scientific expeditions revealed that the wreck had begun to deteriorate rapidly, due to saltwater corrosion and storms. NOAA responded by developing a plan to recover as much of the Monitor's hull and contents as possible.

Beginning in 1998, a series of deep-water expeditions recovered Monitor's propeller, steam engine, and the famous rotating gun turret that was the prototype for all naval armament up to the present day. NOAA could not have accomplished these groundbreaking feats without the participation of the U.S. Navy, which conducted most of the recovery work, and The Mariners' Museum and Park, which assumed responsibility for conservation and display of recovered material.

John retired from NOAA in 2010 as the Sanctuary Office's Chief Archaeologist.