Thursday, July 27, 2017

USS Monitor turret to be drained as team continues to remove corrosion

Elsa Sangouard works in turret in 2016 (Mariners' Museum and Park)

Conservators on Monday will drain the signature turret of the USS Monitor so they can work inside again and check on the status of removal of harmful chlorides.

Will Hoffman, conservation project manager and senior conservator with the USS Monitor Center, based at The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va., said his team will clean the electrolytic reduction system, which is aimed at improving the conservation process.

“We want to remove the corrosion, so that we can free trapped ocean salts,” he told the Picket on Thursday.

In a blog post, the center said conservators last summer removed nut guards from the turret interior during extensive work. “This summer, we’ll be assessing the status of the nut guards and possibly even dry ice blasting them.”

What was the purpose of the nut guards? Elsa Sangouard, USS Monitor senior conservator, said, If the turret was hit by a cannonball during battle, the nut guards would prevent the nuts located inside the turret to fly at the crew and potentially injure someone. “

The annual work inside will last through August, officials said.

In April, Hoffman said the team was preparing for the placement of a new support system. The revolving turret, which housed the warship’s guns, currently rests on a lower support pad.

Turret interior last summer (Mariners' Museum and Park)

“Remember, the turret is upside down, and therefore, all the weight of the guns and carriages were resting on (the roof). The roof was not designed to hold that amount of weight,” Hoffman wrote in an email. “Currently, the turret is still sitting on that support pad, which inhibits our ability to remove the roof and subsequently turn the object over.”

The innovative ironclad tangled with the Confederacy's CSS Virginia in nearby Hampton Roads in March 1862. The USS Monitor, while smaller, was more nimble than the CSS Virginia, and the two vessels fought to what many consider a draw.

The USS Monitor, which had been under tow from Virginia to North Carolina, early on Dec. 31, 1862, slipped beneath the sea, its turret resting upside down on the Atlantic Ocean floor. The turret was raised in 2002 and has undergone conservation since.

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