The USS Monitor’s Story


This site offers an overview of the development and career of the USS Monitor from her conception by John Ericsson, through her short career as a warship of the United States Navy, to her loss off Cape Hatteras in December 1862 and her subsequent discovery and recovery.

On March 9, 1862, the Civil War battle of Hampton Roads between the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) heralded the beginning of a new era in naval warfare. Though indecisive, the battle marked the change from wood and sail to iron and steam.

Today, the remains of the Monitor rest on the ocean floor off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where the ship sank in a storm on December 31, 1862. Discovered in 1973, the Monitor wreck site was designated the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (MNMS) and is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The purpose of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is to preserve the historic record of this significant vessel and to interpret her role in shaping US naval history. Over the past several years NOAA has made extensive surveys of the wreck site and recovered a number of artifacts from the Monitor.

Diver on the USS Monitor's wreck site, courtesy of NOAA

Diver on the USS Monitor’s wreck site, courtesy of NOAA

A statue of John Ericsson, the Monitor's inventor, in Battery Park, New York City, with a <em>Monitor</em> model in hand

A statue of John Ericsson, the Monitor’s inventor, in Battery Park, New York City, with a Monitor model in hand