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Engine From USS Monitor Raised

July 16, 2001

HATTERAS, N.C. (AP) _ The steam engine from the USS Monitor was brought to the surface Monday, 138 years after the celebrated Union ironclad went down in a storm.

A crane aboard a 300-foot oceangoing barge raised the 30-ton engine from the Atlantic 16 miles off Hatteras Inlet.

The Monitor, once described as resembling a ``cheesebox on a raft,″ revolutionized naval warfare when it battled the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia to a draw in March 1862 at Hampton Roads. It was history’s first clash of ironclads.

The ships featured iron plates to repel cannon balls, and the Monitor had a revolving gun turret that, in modern form, is standard on warships today.

The condition of the engine will be determined once it is placed in a 93,000-gallon tank of water at a Newport News shipyard.

The Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budgeted about $5.5 million for the project.

The Monitor sank while being towed to North Carolina on Dec. 31, 1862, killing 16 people. Its only battle was with the Virginia, formerly called the Merrimack.

The ship went down in 230 feet of water and endured hurricanes, swift currents and salt water until Duke University scientists found it in 1973.

``There are very few engines from that period that survived, and this engine is probably one of the best preserved,″ said John Broadwater, manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

The Monitor was the first Navy ship driven solely by steam power. Until then, most fighting ships were wooden and relied primarily on sail power.

NOAA plans to try to raise the turret next summer. Much of the rest of the Monitor is badly deteriorated and too fragile to bring up.

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