Process to Save Military History Moves Forward

German U-boat U-701. Photo: Steve Sellers, NOAA

Did you know that a World War II battle took place in the waters off the coast of North Carolina? Most people don’t. But remains of vessels from that combat will be officially protected and preserved if NOAA expands the boundaries of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

Designated in 1975, the Monitor site is the resting place of the famous Civil War ironclad. But just beyond those boundaries are other nationally significant military shipwrecks including American, British, Russian, German and other nations’ vessels destroyed during WWII’s Battle of the Atlantic, all of which have little or no legal protection.

Expansion of the Monitor site, currently under consideration by NOAA, would change that. Support comes from veterans groups, historians, archaeologists, divers, the preservation community, the general public and the Monitor’s own advisory council. The first stage of that consideration process was completed this month with the end of the public comment period. This feedback will help NOAA identify boundary alternatives and potential effects of expansion as part of a Draft Management Plan and environmental impact statement.

NMSF is committed to strengthening and expanding marine sanctuaries and works with local coalitions to bolster their efforts and advocate on their behalf to policymakers.

NMSF endorses the Monitor site expansion and has supported its community’s work. The proposal will ensure the preservation of these at-risk historic shipwrecks and raise awareness of their importance through heritage tourism, research, and education.