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NOAA 04 - R440
May 10, 2004


Justin Lyons, Public Relations Director
The Mariners’ Museum
(757) 591-7738 or (800) 581-7245
David Hall, Media Coordinator
NOAA's National Marine
Sanctuary Program
(301) 713-3125, ext. 229

Technicians from National Park Service’s HABS/HAER offices to map artifacts

The Beginning this week in Newport News, Va., The Mariners’ Museum and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary will work with the National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) to map the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor’s turret and steam engine using advanced laser scanning equipment. The documentation is part of the ongoing treatment process for these and hundreds of other USS Monitor artifacts undergoing conservation at The Mariners’ Museum.

“Together, NOAA, The Mariners’ Museum and the National Park Service are using the technology of our time to preserve one of the most revolutionary technologies of all time: the USS Monitor,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “It’s another step forward in the effort to preserve this important part of America’s maritime heritage.”

“We’re pleased to be working with HABS/HAER to document the turret and steam engine from the USS Monitor,” said John Broadwater, manager of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, which is funding the documentation work. “Their expertise will provide us with an accurate 3-D image of the current state of both artifacts before they begin the conservation process.”

HABS/HAER is an arm of the National Park Service and is an integral component of the federal government’s commitment to historic preservation. HABS/HAER documents important architectural, engineering and industrial sites throughout the United States and its territories.

“The process is expected to take a week and will provide us with a 3-D image of the turret and steam engine as they are right now,” said Curtiss Peterson, The Mariners’ Museum’s lead conservator. “We need detailed documentation of these large complex components of the Monitor before we disassemble them for conservation.”

Once complete, the data will then be translated into a 3-D model of each artifact. According to Broadwater, this type of mapping will need to be performed a few more times throughout the conservation process. The steam engine is expected to take 10 years to conserve and the turret is expected to take 20 years.

In 1862, the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor sank in turbulent waters off the coast of North Carolina. Almost 100 years later, scientists discovered the wreck, which became the nation’s first national marine sanctuary in 1975. In 1987, NOAA designated The Mariners’ Museum as the repository for artifacts and archives from the USS Monitor.

Since then, The Mariners’ Museum has received over 1,500 artifacts from the Monitor, including the steam engine in 2001 and the revolving gun turret in 2002. The Mariners’ Museum, in partnership with NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, is working to develop the USS Monitor Center, which will become the definitive national authority and repository for materials, research and programming related to the history of the famous ironclad—and the larger story of the naval history of the Civil War.

The Mariners’ Museum is conducting a $30 million capital campaign for construction of the USS Monitor Center. NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program has provided $9.5 million in federal funds toward the $20 million that will be raised from public sources. The Mariners’ Museum is raising $10 million from corporations, foundations, and individuals across the nation. The Center will open on March 9, 2007. For more information, visit

The Mariners’ Museum, an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Association of Museums, preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings and other maritime artifacts. The Museum is open from 10 A.M. until 5 P.M. daily. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For information, call (757) 596-2222 or (800) 581-7245, or write to The Mariners’ Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606. The Museum can be reached on the World Wide Web at

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP), which manages the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (, seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. NOAA’s National Ocean Service ( manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. For more information about NOAA visit

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