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Old March 9, 2013, 03:21 PM   #1
Willie Sutton
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Battle of Hampton Roads 151'st Anniversary

Since we often segue into civil war interests here, today marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, where the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (nee Merrimac) fought it out, becoming the first clash of ironclad ships and changing maritime history forever.

I was one of the divers fortunate enough to do some of the survey diving on the wreck of the USS Monitor, and a short professionally done video of one of our expeditions has been posted here:


http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=415701213714


Someplace in the wreckage are a stock of Colt revolvers, the frames are likely all gone, but the brass grip frames would be as good as new. I've dived and surveyed the area where we think they would have been stored, but without success. Naturally any artifacts are left in place and documented for NOAA, as the site is tightly controlled and only divable as part of a formal expedition after obtaining permits, and only with a NOAA representative on board.


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Old March 9, 2013, 03:27 PM   #2
TheNatureBoy
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I had the opportunity to visit the museum in Newport News (I live in Hampton) about two years ago. Absolutely incredible! Gonna visit again this summer. You guys did a fantastic job!
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Old March 9, 2013, 03:35 PM   #3
Willie Sutton
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The museum is world class. Our NOAA rep on the dives, Jeff Johnston, worked there for NOAA as their onsite rep for years, and getting to see the artifacts up close and personal behind the scenes was wonderful.

Dropping down the anchor line for the first time, I was able to see the wreck when I hit about 150 feet, with the bottom at 220-ish. You could see the wreck laying on the bottom in her entirety, and I admit that I literally shed tears into my mask at the enormity of what I was seeing. It was a privilege and honor to be able to view her in person. "Awe Inspiring" is the proper term.


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Old March 10, 2013, 05:38 AM   #4
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What a great thread!

I'll bet there will be more posts on this one.
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My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson
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Old March 10, 2013, 08:55 AM   #5
4V50 Gary
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Thanks. I've always been fascinated by the USS Monitor.
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Old March 10, 2013, 09:28 AM   #6
Willie Sutton
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^^

Me too.

I thought I had it all in context, after reading and studying it for years. I read and read and read... and then.... out of the blue... that shape.... identifiable immediately. Just.... blessed to have seen it.

I am actually very surprised that no Colt revolver grip-frame has been recovered, but many of the smaller artifacts are so well buried that they are truly cryptic. But they are there.



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Old March 10, 2013, 01:52 PM   #7
Rebel Dave
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Whatever became of the CSS Virginia,??. old age is taking it's tole , and I can't remember, from all my books.

I think a CS Iron clad was located in Mobile bay some years ago also.

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Old March 10, 2013, 07:57 PM   #8
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The Virginia's propellor is at the Museum of the Confederacy at Richmond. Other parts were left down in Davy Jones' locker.
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Old March 10, 2013, 08:10 PM   #9
Willie Sutton
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The Virginia was unable to escape being bottled up in the James River. With Union Forces approaching, and unable to move her to safety, she was put to the torch and burned. Her magazine detonated and she was blown literally to bits.

One of her real Achilles Heels (she had several) was her draft. She needed 22 feet of water to float her, being the hull of an former Union Navy steamship with new superstructure grafted on. While she came to fame in her standoff with the Monitor, she was definately the all over inferior. No more deep-draft ironclads were ever built to her pattern.

In contrast to that, the term "Monitor" was used not only as the proper name of the USS Monitor, but of an entire class of ships. Monitors were built in number, and the last were not retired until after WW-I. In addition to the USS Monitor, other Monitor shipwrecks exist. USS Tecumseh is the one in Mobile Bay. The term "Monitor" has been used by the USN as recently as in Viet Nam, to indicate a shallow draft armored river patrol ship suited for close range shore bombardment.


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Old March 11, 2013, 11:43 AM   #10
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I love wreck diving, but can't afford to do it these days. Last wreck dive was in 1989 on some old heaps near Catalina...
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Old March 11, 2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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Willie

Thanks for the insight on the Monitor,and Virginia.

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Old March 11, 2013, 01:55 PM   #12
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It's a religion...


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