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Turret from ironclad USS Monitor about to be moved

Re-positioning will give conservators full access to all sides of the artifact as they continue the restoration and conservation project.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — It participated in one of the most famous Naval battles in American history.

The ironclad USS Monitor fought to a draw with the CSS Virginia in 1862 in the waters of Hampton Roads only to sink to a watery grave off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina nine months later taking 16 men with it.

NOAA and the Navy recovered the Monitor's gun turret in 2002.

Now, 17 years later, a significant milestone in the conservation of the turret is at hand.

The Mariners' Museum, NOAA and Newport News Shipbuilding are partnering starting the first week in April to raise up the turret from the stand in a giant tank where it has been sitting. Moving it will give conservators access to all sides of the relic and will reveal for the first time its roof structure.

This is vital American history -- an actual piece from an epic battle that forever changed the future of naval warfare.

"To me, what it really boils down to is it's really the birth of the modern Navy ship," said Chief Conservator Will Hoffman.

Conservators who have diligently worked on restoring the Monitor's artifacts are excited to someday share the ship's story with the public.

"It's really amazing," said Assistant Conservator Laurie King. "It really feels like we're creating a legacy for the community."

It will take about ten years to complete the conservation project. After that, the hope is to open it up to public display by 2035.

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