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They check the “amazing” state of conservation of a US Civil War battleship 160 years after its shipwreck

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The USS Monitor, considered to be America’s first steam-powered warship, sank on New Year’s Eve 1862 due to bad weather.

Although having been shipwrecked 160 years ago, in the midst of the American civil war, off the coast of North Carolina, America’s first steam-powered battleship, the USS Monitor, remains in remarkable condition, the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration recently reported.

As detailed by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the old ship was inspected during an expedition to a site known as the ‘Cemetery of the Atlantic’, where it is estimated that there are about 2,000 shipwrecks, of which that of the USS Monitor is the oldest and of greatest historical value.

The ship, historians indicate, was built almost exclusively of iron and had a armor belt of 1.5 meters high and 15 ce meters thick that surrounded the waterline to protect it during battle. In addition, it had a rotating turret, the first of its kind, equipped with two cannons 11 inches.

According to the agency, the boat, which capsized on New Year’s Eve 1862, was discovered in 1973 by researchers from Duke University at a depth of about 70 meters. Since then it has been the subject of various studies, including one carried out in 2002, in which it was necessary to intervene to remove the “precious turret and other artifacts, for its conservation”.

The USS Monitor, the sources point out, sank off Cape Hatteras, about 25 kilometers off the coast of North Carolina, due to strong waves. “The waves grew and the wind blew. With each roll, the shock waves shattered the crew and the hull of the small boat […] Leaks occurred, flooding the engines and reducing the pressure of the steam needed for propulsion […] The turret was the only escape hatch and when the men tried to dive from the deck, many of them were swept into the unknown by the treacherous waves,” NOAA recounts in a report.

Tane Renata Casserley, permit and resource protection coordinator at NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, told McClatchy News that the ship is in “amazing condition after to have lain on the seafloor for 160 years and to have withstood all the environmental conditions at Cape Hatteras, including extremely strong currents and hurricanes.”

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