USS Monitor Center, Newport News

5.0
#5 of 7 in Museums in Newport News
The USS Monitor was designed by Swedish American John Ericsson and was built in just over 100 days. When the ship was launched in January 1862, it was the first ironclad built by the US Navy. On May 8-9, 1862, Monitor fought the CSS Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads. This was a turning point in ship construction as it proved the effectiveness of iron ships over their wooden counterparts. Though the battle was fought to a draw, the Union considered it a win, as the Confederates were unable to destroy the Union fleet at Hampton Roads, VA. On December 31, 1862, at approximately 1 am, the USS Monitor sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras, NC. The ship settled in 235 feet of water with 16 of its crew members.

The wreck site was found in 1973, positively identified in 1974, and designated NOAA's first National Marine Sanctuary in 1975. Excavation efforts culminated in 2001 and 2002 with the recovery of 210 tons of artifacts from the shipwreck, including the majority of the engine room and the ship's iconic gun turret.

Today, the wreck is being conserved at the Mariners' Museum and Park. This process is visible through large viewing windows into the conservation lab spaces. Additionally, the Monitor Center houses the "Ironclad Revolution" gallery which detail the building, use, sinking, and recovery of the USS Monitor, as well as the Civil War at sea, the Battle of Hampton Roads, the CSS Virginia, and naval technological advances of the mid-1800s.

With displays for every interest and interactions for every age, this is a can't miss experience!
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USS Monitor Center Reviews
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  • We saw this while visiting the Maritime Museum. It was fascinating and educational. There is much more information than most people will take the time to absorb. Although the pieces salvaged from the ...  more »
  • This museum has all the artifacts recovered as well as many full size recreations. Admission is included in the Maritime museum for $1! The turret is still in conservation tanks but can be viewed from...  more »

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