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Science File | In Brief

Civil War Ship's Engine Recovered From Ocean

July 23, 2001

The steam engine from the warship Monitor was brought to the surface last week, 138 years after the celebrated Union ironclad went down in a storm. A crane aboard a 300-foot ocean-going barge raised the 30-ton engine from the Atlantic 16 miles off Hatteras Inlet, N.C.

The Monitor, once described as resembling a "cheesebox on a raft," revolutionized naval warfare when it battled the Confederate ironclad Virginia--formerly called the Merrimack--to a draw in March 1862 at Hampton Roads, Va. The ships featured iron plates to repel cannonballs, and the Monitor had a revolving gun turret that, in modern form, is standard on warships today. The Monitor sank while being towed to North Carolina on Dec. 31, 1862, killing 16 people.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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