Thursday, December 30, 2010

She Was In Danger Of Swamping

The first ironclad warship commissioned by the United States Navy, the USS Monitor foundered in the water off Cape Hatteras December 30th 1862.

The Monitor had just left the Navy Yard in Washington DC after being overhauled, and returned to combat in November 1862. She sailed in the Newport News area throughout November and early December. In late December she was ordered south to be part of the blockade off the Carolinas. On December 29th 1862 the Monitor left Hampton Roads, towed by the USS Rhode Island, headed for Beaufort, North Carolina. The two ships moved slowly just off the coast of North Carolina, when winds picked up to gale force. Nearing Cape Hatteras, the water began coming into the Monitor faster then her pumps could get rid of it.

Just before midnight December 30th 1862 it became clear the Monitor was in danger of swamping. With the in coming sea water drowning the boiler, the Monitor’s steam pressure was falling fast. The men on the Monitor cut the tow line and dropped their anchor, sending out a distress sign to the USS Rhode Island. Rescue boats managed to save forty-two of the men on the Monitor despite the high seas. They lost sixteen men, who were swept away. The Monitor went under in the early morning hours of December 31st 1862.

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