The USS Monitor, designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, was built in New York Harbor and left for battle on March 6th, 1862. By March 9th, the Monitor was at Hampton Roads for its famous battle with the CSS Virginia. The Monitor’s twin 11-inch Dahlgren guns were unable to sink the Virginia, but the Virginia was forced to withdraw from battle.
On December 30, the USS Monitor, while being towed by the USS Rhode Island, encountered heavy seas. Seams began to open, sea water poured in, and pumps began to fail. The Monitor’s commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the Rhode Island that they were abandoning ship. The Rhode Island turned and got as close as it safely could. The Monitor’s crew lowered its two lifeboats, but several crewmen refused to leave the ship. The Monitor floundered and sank. Most of the crew was rescued, but four officers and twelve crewmen were lost.
The remains of the Monitor were found in August 1973. She was inverted, in approximately 240 feet of water, sixteen miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The Monitor’s steam engine, turret and other artifacts have been recovered and are now on display at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia.