USS Monitor shipwreck One of the most famous shipwrecks lying off the Carolina coast is the famous Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. The 987-ton iron gunboat became famous as a participant in the first battle between two iron warships, when she fought the Confederate Ironclad Virginia at Hampton Roads in March 1862. It was a prototype of a class of ironclad, turreted warships which significantly altered both naval technology and marine architecture in the 19th century. In December, 1862, the Monitor was ordered to Beaufort, N.C to join the Union blockading forces there. Leaving Hampton Roads, Virginia on the 29 of December, the ship ran into a gale on the evening of December 30. As the ship neared Cape Hatteras, water began flooding into the ship faster than the pumps could remove it. Shortly before midnight, rising water drowned the engine boiler fires. Without power, the boat signaled the nearby USS Rhode Island for help. Forty Six crewmen were rescued in the dangerous storm conditions; however, sixteen were swept away by the currents. At about 1:30 in the morning December 31, 1862, the historic Monitor slipped under the waves, just 16 miles off Cape Hatteras. The shipwreck lay undiscovered for 112 years when it was finally found in April of 1974. Because of its location, 16 miles offshore and 230 feet deep) the majority of visitors can not visit the site.