USS Monitor Anchor - Newport News
Case Study USS Monitor Anchor - Newport News

Anchors Aweigh! High Speed Scanner Captures Nuances of Civil War USS Monitor Artifact

The treasures that lie beyond the doors of the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, are sure to capture the heart of any history buff. The museum is filled to the crow’s nest with prized artifacts that celebrate the spirit of seafaring adventure. Visitors from around the world experience over 60,000 square feet of gallery space filled Civil War ironclad USS Monitor artifacts and archives, paintings, small craft with rare figureheads, handcrafted ship models and much more. Perched on a 550-acre woodland park, the museum was recently the center of a major data acquisition effort to capture and digitally preserve a key artifact retrieved from the shipwrecked USS Monitor.

On a cold New Year’s Eve in 1862, the USS Monitor encountered a storm and sank sixteen miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The wreck of the USS Monitor was discovered in 1973, and two years later was designated America’s first National Marine Sanctuary. The site is protected and managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Program. On behalf of the federal government, NOAA designated the Mariners’ Museum in 1987 as the repository for artifacts and archives from the Monitor. In 1987, NOAA retrieved the Monitor’s anchor, the first of the large objects to be recovered from the site. From 1998 to 2002, NOAA and the US Navy conducted large-scale diving operations to reinforce the Monitor’s collapsing hull and to recover significant artifacts and components, including the propeller, steam engine, revolving gun turret and guns. Today, the Mariners’ Museum houses more than 3,000 artifacts and archives that tell the stories of the unique vessels that engaged in the first naval battle between two ironclad warships, CSS Virginia and USS Monitor. . . . .

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