Wednesday, October 03, 2018

USS Monitor

If you do an internet search for the USS Monitor you will discover that this famous sunken Civil War ironclad vessel was located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1973 near Cape Hatteras. I remember well an excited chat I had in the Village Craftsmen with a reporter for the Washington Post at the time of the discovery.

So I was surprised to recently discover this newspaper article from July 1955:

Leatherneck Skin Diver Claims Monitor Found Off Buxton, N.C.

A 21-year-old Marine skin diver confidently announced last Sunday he has found—and touched with his own hands—the sunken hull of the famous Yankee Civil War ship, the Monitor, according to an Associated Press dispatch.

In fact, he says, he has stuck a note to that effect in one of the vessel’s gun ports.

Corporal Robert F. Marx, stationed at Camp Lejeune, said he located the Monitor hull in about 50 feet of water in the Atlantic, a mile east of Buxton, N. C., on the outer banks near Cape Hatteras. “I found the thing,” he said calmly. “It was buried in the sand, with the turret sticking out about four feet. I’m sure it’s the Monitor.”

One historian, expressing some doubt, said that if Marx is right he has scored the “coup of the century” in naval history. For nearly a hundred years, men have searched in vain for this historic vessel.


A little digging on the internet rewarded me with more information about Robert Marx's adventure. You can read Clay Blair's detailed account in his 2015 book, Diving for Treasure and Pleasure

In spite of Marx's 1955 claim, official reports tell a different story. According the Monitor National Maritime Sanctuary website, in 1973 "a team of scientists aboard Duke University Research Vessel Eastward located the shipwreck remains of what they believed to be the USS Monitor lying upside down [not right side up] in 230 feet of water [not 50 feet of water], approximately 16 miles [not one miled] off Cape Hatteras, N.C. A 1974 expedition confirmed that the shipwreck was in fact the Monitor."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Another Philip Howard interesting story!..crazy, but I found myself leaning in to read this story...Thank you..