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thedrifter
08-06-02, 10:41 AM
MIAMI (Reuters) - Salvage divers used slings and battled strong currents on Monday to raise the 150-ton gun turret of the famed Civil War battleship USS Monitor from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast.

Navy salvage workers pulled the 140-year-old relic to the surface shortly before 6 p.m. EDT.

One of the United States' most famous warships, the ironclad Monitor sank during a storm in December 1862, killing 16 officers and crew. It landed upside down in 240 feet of water.

U.S. Navy ( news - web sites) Cmdr. Bobbie Scholley, head of the 100-member crew involved in the $6.5 million salvage effort, said divers rigged the sling that allowed the barge Wotan to pull the turret and its twin cannons from the bottom.

The turret was secured on the barge's deck for transport to The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, where conservators will begin the 10-year process to preserve it.

"Future generations will not have to rely on paintings and faded photographs to remember the Monitor," said John Broadwater, manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. "Her story will now be told through the very icon that made her famous, the world's first armored revolving gun turret."

Strong currents and high winds forced the crew to delay an attempt to raise the turret during the weekend, and a storm was expected to hit the site late on Tuesday, pushing the crew to complete the lift on Monday.

Experts consider the Monitor, the first U.S. warship without masts or sails, to be the forerunner of the modern Navy.

Powered by steam alone, it was constructed almost entirely of iron and bore a revolving gun turret 9 feet high and 22 feet in diameter housing two 11-inch cannons.

Launched on Jan. 30, 1862, the Monitor was rushed into service following brief sea trials. It fought one significant battle, with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, which was constructed over the modified hull of the USS Merrimack after Union forces burned that ship.

The March 9, 1862, battle ended in a draw but is considered by historians to have marked the end of the era of wooden battleships.

The Monitor sank in a gale off Cape Hatteras on Dec. 31, 1862, as it was being towed to Beaufort, North Carolina, less than a year after its launch. The U.S. Navy built more than 60 other ships during the Civil War based on the revolutionary design of the Monitor.

The wreck was found in August 1973 about 16 miles south-southeast of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.

Portions of a skeleton, the remains of one of the 16 people who died when the ship went down, were brought to the surface on Sunday and were taken ashore, where experts will try to determine the man's identity.

In an expedition last year, divers recovered the Monitor's 30-ton steam engine.


http://us.news2.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/nm/20020806/mdf84065.jpg

The revolving gun turret from the civil war era ship USS Monitor is lifted from the ocean floor, and placed onto the derrick barge Wotan, on August 5, 2002. Salvage divers used slings and battled strong currents to raise the 150-ton gun turret of the famed Civil War battleship USS Monitor from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean off the North Carolina coast. (Martin Maddock, U.S. Navy via Reuters)

Sempers,

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