Sanctuary Celebrates 30 Years
As the first national marine sanctuary, the Monitor paved the way for other sanctuary designations and promoted public understanding and appreciation of our nation’s maritime heritage. With the recovery of significant artifacts from the wreck site between 1998 and 2002, the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary moved into a new chapter of its story -- one that will ultimately reach millions of Americans through the preservation and exhibition of its artifacts. As part of celebrating 30 years of achievement, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation hosted a special gala honoring two of the sanctuary’s largest supporters, Senator John Warner and the late Congressman Herb Bateman.
Conservation Efforts Continue on Artifacts
The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects the wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, best known for its battle with the Confederate ironclad Virginia in Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. NOAA, The Mariners Museum and U.S. Navy have spent the last several years to survey the wreck, remove many of its historical components and work to preserve this important piece of American history.
The Monitor’s cannons and carriages have received a lot of attention since they were removed from the gun turret in 2004. Both of the cannon bores have now been cleared of silt, sediment, coal, and marine growth that gave us the answer to one of the most often asked questions about the Monitor; did one of her crew put a cat inside one of the cannon barrels as the gunboat was sinking. No one will ever know if a cat was on board but both barrels were empty. Construction on the conservation center is also progressing nicely. The building is planned for completion in spring 2006.
Learning the Role of the Monitor in U.S. History
Sanctuary staff continued their support of regional outreach and education activities in 2005. Staff reached approximately 20,000 people through community events and educational programs including Norfolk Harborfest, Delaware Coast Day, Hampton Bay Days, The Northeast Coastal Zone Management Workshop, Urbanna Oyster Festival, Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend, Nautical Research Guild Symposium and The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Seminar. These events help to enhance public awareness of this important part of American history.
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Graveyard of the Atlantic Wreck Survey
In Late May 2005, high-resolution sonar imagery was recorded of the Monitor as part of a “Graveyard of the Atlantic” wreck survey off the North Carolina coast. The survey had two other goals: (1) conduct a side scan survey in search for the USS Alligator, the U.S. Navy’s first submarine; and (2) obtain high resolution sonar imagery of the U-701.
Plans for 2006
Sanctuary staff will continue to work closely with The Mariners' Museum to complete the final design and fabrication of the new USS Monitor Center scheduled to open in March 2007. Monitor staff will continue to oversee the important task of conserving the thousands of priceless artifacts recovered from the wreck site for display inside this exciting new facility. Also in 2006, the site will formally convene its new sanctuary advisory council for the first time to help staff reach out to its various user and interest groups. The site will continue to participate in dozens of public events, school programs and provide education support to a number of museums, aquaria, and science centers in the mid-Atlantic region.