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The Monitor Sank in Rough Seas

The Monitor's Design Made It Ill-Suited to the Open Ocean

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The Monitor was being towed southward, past Cape Hatteras, when it foundered and sank in rough seas in the early hours of December 31, 1862.
Depiction of the sinking of the Monitor off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Depiction of the sinking of the Monitor off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Library of Congress

A known problem with the Monitor's design was that the ship was difficult to handle in rough water. It nearly sank twice while being towed from Brooklyn to Virginia in early March 1862.

And while being towed to a new deployment in the South, it ran into rough weather off the coast of North Carolina in late December 1862. As the ship struggled, a rescue boat from the USS Rhode Island managed to get close enough to rescue most of the crew.

The Monitor took on water, and it disappeared beneath the waves in the early hours of December 31, 1862. Four officers and 12 men went down with the Monitor.

Though the Monitor's career was brief, other ships, also called Monitors, were built and pressed into service throughout the Civil War.

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