Loss of the USS Monitor

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.


Real cool layered render with excellent composition. I love how you included a little history on the Monitor. Was the water simulated with mantaflow?

I tried to use Mantaflow, but I could not get the control I wanted and the render times were going through the roof.

The water started with a high-polygon plane, a subdivision modifier and an ocean modifier. That gave me the basic wave shapes and details. I played with the ocean modifier settings and camera angle until I had a rising wave that would let me put the Monitor at the angle I wanted.

I don’t usually do much post-render work, but I could not get the effects I wanted by just using Blender, so I did a lot of layer masking in Photoshop after the initial render. To make the ocean glow & shadows, I copied the original render and used a color curve to make a much brighter/greener version of it. Then I used a layer mask to expose portions of the brighter image. Darker shadows in the water were created by overlaying photographs of ocean foam. The foam images were layer masked, de-saturated and the mode was set to Multiply. The spray around the monitor and wave tops is also made from photographs (layer masked, de-saturated and set to Pin Light). The running water on the port side of the deck is roughness and bump maps. The thicker, more turbulent water on the starboard side is a thin layer of polygons with a glass shader and a mild displacement modifier to add some bump.

I featured you on BlenderNation. Stay safe, and have a great week!

Thank you.

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