Deep Dive: USS Ironclad Monitor Wreck Undergoes High-Tech Exploration

The turret of the USS Civil War battleship battleship Monitor is carefully preserved at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, and now a brand new underwater expedition will explore the rest of Monitorthe wreck off the coast of North Carolina.

The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) will begin exploring the USS Monitor this month, and you can follow live. The expedition is called Valor in the Atlantic.

The exploration will take place in the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (MNMS). It was the first National Marine Sanctuary in the United States. Created in 1975, the sanctuary protects the wreckage of the USS Monitor. The site is about 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. Themmonitor sank on the last day of 1862 with the loss of 16 crew.

The ROV Yogi captures high definition underwater images and can collect samples. Photo: GFOE

GFOE is a non-profit organization that provides equipment and services to various government agencies and research institutes for ocean exploration. They have developed several remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for underwater exploration. On this trip, the ROVs Yogi and Guru will explore the bottom of the ocean. the Yogi captures magnificent underwater images with its high definition cameras. It has a 5-function manipulator arm that can collect samples and a suction sampler so that small objects of interest can be sucked up from the bottom. It can dive up to 1500 meters. The vehicle’s first project was to explore Yellowstone Lake, hence its name. It was named after the cartoon bear that lived in a fictionalized version of Yellowstone National Park. the Guru is a camera platform designed to work with Yogi.

Yogi will be connected to the research platform ship Nancy Foster by cable. the Nancy Foster is connected to the Internet via satellite. Images from the ROV cameras will be streamed live from under the sea to devices around the world. Anyone with an internet connection can watch!

the MonitorThe turret was recovered during a 41-day recovery mission in 2002. It is on display at the Mariners Museum in Newport News, Virginia, which also houses the offices of the MNMS.

In addition to the Monitor, the expedition will explore other wrecks in the area. The name of the expedition, Valor in the Atlantic, comes from the fact that a variety of war wrecks will be explored. During World War II, attacks by German U-boats on Allied merchant shipping resulted in a heavy concentration of World War II wrecks off the North Carolina coast. The project represents an ideal opportunity to honor the history and sacrifice of Allied servicemen and United States Merchant Marines who fought and died during the war.

It’s not all in the story. Wrecks also provide habitat for a variety of marine life.

According to Chris Taylor, research ecologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “The Nancy Foster and other vessels in our NOAA fleet use multibeam and fishing echo sounders that allow us to map the seabed and water column almost instantaneously. We then create high definition models and visualizations of the biological communities around the wrecks. Echo sounders have shown that these wrecks are home to huge schools of fish and large predators. ROV cameras then help us identify these fish by species. »

Taylor says echo sounders can also help researchers map ocean currents around wrecks, which provides insight into the movement of nutrients, algae and plankton at the base of the food web. This information will inform the management of wreck and reef ecosystems in the future.

Various other organizations will participate in Valor in the Atlantic. In addition to the GFOE and MNMS, there will be NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and the Office of Archeology at NOAA. State of North Carolina.

the Nancy Foster is already underway and the dives have already started. Scientists will narrate and explain what is visible on the screen. To watch, follow this link: https://engineeringfordiscovery.org.

-Kendall Osborne