Iron from the Deep

Iron from the Deep

To obtain .complete photographic coverage and to recover an artifact uniquely identifiable as part of the Monitor,

a joint expedition with the Navy was arranged.

A cruise aboard the unique search and recovery vessel Alcoa Seaprobe was made to the wreck site in April of 1974 under the command of Commander Colin Jones.

A rigidly con trolled “pod” scanned the wreck and made hundred of still photos of small areas of the wreck.

Several months would be needed to construct a photomosaic of these many ph.otographs, like piecing together of a giant jig-saw puzzle.

The controllable “gripper” of the Alcoa Seaprobe was to be lowered to recover a piece of iron. However,

because of uncertainty that this wreck was indeed the Monitor, at least in the mind of Commander Jones,

the recovery of artifacts was skipped and the remainder of the Seaprobe cruise was devoted to searching for other possible wrecks which the Navy though might just as well be the Monitor.

Needless to say, this disappointed Newton, who represented the original discoverers on this cruise.

geophysical survey cruise off Delaware in May 1974.

I coordinated plans over Eastward’s radio with John Newton to attempt a single dredging station around the Monitor wreck during our return leg to Beaufort,

North Carolina. Only about four hours of ship’s time could be afforded for this project.

After about 25 minutes of dragging the dredge through the sand around the wreck, we recovered the dredge which held one circular piece of iron and several small spall-flake rust fragments.

 These were thoroughly encrusted and clearly loose pieces buried in the sand and shell hash with which they were collected.

After cleaning, the circular piece was found to be an intact decklight cover, identifiable as the Monitor’s from original photographs and plans of the vessel.

The covers, made of two-inch thick circular plates IO inches in diameter held together with four bolts,

were used to fit over thick glass decklights in the ceilings of the staterooms.

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