June 26, 2015. 153-year-old USS Monitor coal comes to National Navy Museum. Jim Bruns, assistant director of Museum Systems Operation Division, foreground, and retired Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, chat about the piece of coal Bruns is holding that had been recovered from USS Monitor’s debris field. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees the ship's resting place, returned the coal to the Navy this week, making it the latest additions to the National Museum of the United States Navy's collection. The museum is located at the Washington Navy Yard. According to a NOAA spokesman, the coal in Monitor's coal bunkers is thought to have come from the Washington Navy Yard in 1862. Monitor was refitted at the Washington Navy Yard after its historic battle with CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, departing the Navy Yard in December 1862 for blockade duty off the Carolinas.
USS Monitor, which held about 100 tons of coal and burned roughly a ton an hour, was on her way to North Carolina under tow when she foundered in a storm off Cape Hatteras in December 1862. During the storm Monitor began taking on water that flooded its engine room, dampening its coal and hindering the generation of steam to maintain its pumps, which contributed to its sinking.
The coal will be part of a new exhibit planned for the National Navy Museum that will focus on cutting edge innovations during the Civil War, including revolving gun turrets, ironclads, ship propulsion, naval ordnance, torpedoes (mines), submersibles and those who made and manned them. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood)