Friday, April 5, 2019

An important step in USS Monitor turret conservation reveals an impressive view of the famed Union ironclad's roof

A new view of the ironclad's roof (Mariners' Museum and Park)

Crews using hydraulic lifts have installed new support stands under the massive turret of the USS Monitor so that conservators can have better access to the famed ironclad’s roof.

The work concluded Friday at the USS Monitor laboratory at the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Va., museum spokeswoman Crystal Breede said.

The long-anticipated project is a major milestone in the lengthy conservation of the turret, which is upside down, as it was on the sea floor. The turret rests in a 90,000-gallon tank usually filled with a caustic solution that has helped remove tons of marine growth.

Turret rests on temporary lifts (Mariners' Museum and Park)

“The current support structure under the turret will be replaced by eight pedestal support stands to give conservators full access to all sides of the iconic artifact and reveal its roof’s exterior for the first time since the massive ironclad sank in the Atlantic Ocean after the 1862 Civil War battle,” the museum said in a press release before the project began Thursday.

Those new supports were in place by Friday afternoon, Breede told the Picket, and the turret was lowered two inches back into place.

2016 photos of turret interior (NOAA)

The artifact will help further the museum's goal of bringing the human component to a story of the innovative ironclad that 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 giant artifact was recovered off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 2002.

Breede said that once the resupport work is done, the tank will be refilled. It may be another three years before the roof is removed. The museum is still years off from turning the turret over, and the goal is having the artifact on public display by 2035.

Crews with old and new supports (Mariners' Museum and Park)

1 comment:

  1. Hope that I live long enough to see it on public display...