Re: Engine From USS Monitor ( and its not in my front yard ! ), the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by John Walker on July 17, 2001 at 00:23:48:

In Reply to: Engine From USS Monitor ( and its not in my front yard ! ) posted by Kevin on July 16, 2001 at 17:03:25:

Kevin, I was blessed with the opportunity to dive the USS Monitor a few years ago with
my dive buddy Bob Titus. We were accompanied by a NOAA official to make sure
that we treated the wreck with the utmost respect and did not bring anything to the
surface. Although the NOAA official (observer) was unable to dive to the realm of the
wreck he did say we weren’t allowed to touch anything.

Initially I was not overly impressed with going to dive this historical ship. It took us three days before the swift currents subsided enough for us to actually descend upon her. When the day finally came, our dive boat was not permitted to anchor within 500 feet from the Monitors resting ground, so the dive boat Mrs.Linsey drifted while we did our dive.

Once our team of six landed on the bottom, approximately 100 ft south of the wreck, Bob and I decided to head towards the stern area. We headed directly to the turret and once we arrived I was in awe. “This is the historical USS Monitor, resting in place since January 1862”.

We cruised towards the bow doing as much sight seeing as possible in our allotted 25 min bottom time. Soon we spotted the deteriorated bow that the NOAA observer later said that they believe encured damage from depth charges during WWII. We also saw artifacts such as glass relish jars popping out of the sand, as though they were saying, “go ahead, take me”. To be honest, that’s exactly what I wanted to do but am glad I didn’t. Not so much in fear for the observer on the surface waiting for us but because this was so unique and pristine. I did in fact touch one, maybe two, artifacts only to see if they were real, but only touched.

Shortly after, Bob and I headed back towards the stern. We came to the engine room. Once there, I decided to enter the room while Bob shot video behind me. What I saw was awesome. Valves, gauges, and machinery and a pale still hanging in place for the last 140+/- years.

Soon after I entered, I noticed Bob fussing, silting out slightly. After the silt subsided I realized that someone was pulling on Bobs leg. It was Tom Duarty, the guy who actually put the trip together. He obviously had a big problem with what we were doing.

After that we had to end our bottom time for an hour or so of decompression. At about 30 fsw the dive master came down and disconnected our decompression buoy and we drifted in the gulf stream for the rest of our deco.

On the surface we had a few words with Tom. We confirmed that he told us that we were not allowed to touch the wreck. Since Bob is slightly submissive I spoke up and said we didn’t touch the wreck until he (Tom Duarte) started pulling on Bobs leg, screwing his trim all up. Tom said, “ John if you were in the wreck you had to of touched it”. I said “ Tom, we did not”. Tom argued and I said, “just because you North East Wreck Divers crawl all over your wrecks doesn’t mean us West Coast Divers do the same”. I believe steam came from Toms ears afterwards.

Looking back at it, this was about the last civilian expedition to the Monitor before they started tearing her apart. I can say that as a diver I feel fortunate to be able to see her sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic in her natural resting spot, unspoiled my human greed.

The Monitor has been sitting in her resting spot since 1882 and strangely enough the US government felt that her deterioration in the last 10 years was alarming. Even though she is in better shape than most of our So.Cal wrecks sank less than 40 years ago. This was a wonderful dive and I will never be able to do it again.

Its late, so please forgive the grammer.

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