The Monitor's Propeller
John Ericsson created the unique design for the Monitor's propeller, which allowed it to be mounted under water and out of the way of enemy fire. The propeller is currently on display at The Mariners' Museum.
The Monitor's propeller was designed by John Ericsson as a four-blade, 4,600-pound, cast-iron screw propeller that was nine feet in diameter. Although the propellers of other ships were also based on Ericsson's designs, the Monitor's propeller is likely to be the only one for which he personally supervised the construction.
Ericsson's revolutionary design for the Monitor propeller was more efficient than a paddlewheel and allowed the engine to be mounted below the waterline so that it was protected from enemy fire.
The propeller and a section of its shaft were brought to the surface in 1998, to help relieve stress on the stern of the ship and to preserve the propeller itself.
To stabilize the propeller, conservators placed it in a tank of sodium carbonate. While encrusting organisms were being removed, conservators discovered four letters carved into one of the propeller blades. No one knows who carved the letters or what they mean.
After six years of conservation, the propeller was placed on display at The Mariners' Museum.
- Location: The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia
- Recovery: 1998
- Material: Cast iron
- Notable Features: While encrusting organisms were being removed, conservators discovered four letters carved into one of the blades. No one knows who carved the letters or what they mean.
Related Web Sites:
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (1994). A look at the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary: Past, Present and Future.
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (2005). Monitor National Marine Sanctuary factsheet.