Designated: January 30, 1975
Area: 0.83 mi²
Off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects the wreckage of this famous Civil War battleship and the graves of its heroes. The USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy and deployed in the Battle of Hampton Roads, against the Confederate Virginia (formerly the Merrimack), in 1862; this pivotal event changed modern naval combat. The Monitor sunk later that year and was lost until 1973.
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation played a vital role in those efforts, including a multiyear partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University to reconstruct the faces of two sailors whose remains were discovered in the Monitor’s turret when it was raised from the ocean floor in 2002. The Foundation also supported genealogical research to locate Monitor descendants, many of whom attended the 2013 Arlington National Cemetery burial of the sailors’ remains with full military honors. The Foundation also supported the reclamation and conservation of artifacts through a partnership between the sanctuary, the US Navy, and The Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, Virginia, which houses The USS Monitor Center, featuring exhibits, artifact restoration facilities, and archives. Monitor exhibits can also be found in various partner locations in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina.