Weather slows effort to raise turret of Civil War ironclad

Monday, August 5, 2002

HATTERAS, N.C. -- Strong undersea currents and shifting winds delayed an attempt Sunday to raise the 120-ton revolving gun turret of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor.

Sixteen officers and crew members died Dec. 31, 1862, when the Union ship sank during a storm, landing upside-down in 240 feet of water. The wreckage was discovered in 1973.

Undersea currents and shifting winds delayed an operation by Navy divers, who were to put in place a heavy cable sling to lift the turret.

A crane aboard a barge moored above the Monitor wreckage 16 miles off Cape Hatteras was to then be pulled up the turret and its twin cannons.

Two- to 4-foot waves rocked the work barge, and a tug was moving its anchors, said Cmdr. Bobbie Scholley, the Navy's commander for the expedition. Once the anchors are repositioned, expedition leaders were to decide when they could raise the turret.

Scholley said the lift could take place early today.

"If we've got favorable conditions, once the barge has moved, we're going to want to take advantage of the opportunity," Scholley told reporters during a conference call from the barge.

Scholley said a storm is forecast Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday. "That could shut us down for several days," she said.

Winds were 15 to 20 mph Sunday afternoon and needed to be calmer before the lift could be made, she said.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: