NOAA considers expansion of Monitor Marine Sanctuary

By on January 28, 2016

Divers explore the wreck of the German U-boat U-701, which sank on July 7, 1942, off Cape Hatteras. (NOAA)

Following several years of scientific and archaeological assessment and public input, NOAA has announced plans to consider possible expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, off the North Carolina coast.

The proposed expansion would protect a collection of historically significant shipwrecks, including vessels sunk during World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic.

Four possible expansion options are available for public consideration. The models represent several approaches but are not confined to specific boundaries.

A description of each option, including boundaries and resources in the area, can be found at the expansion webpage.

The public is invited to submit comments to the agency through March 18. Following the comment period, NOAA may develop a draft environmental impact statement, draft management plan and potential regulations, which will then be available for public review.

After reviewing those comments, NOAA would then make a final decision on the proposed expansion.

“For more than 40 years, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary has honored the USS Monitor and the memory and service of her officers and crew,” said David Alberg, Monitor sanctuary superintendent.

“The proposed expansion is the result of a collaborative public process and provides an opportunity for us to honor another generation of mariners who rose to the country’s defense when war erupted off America’s shores. Our goal is to protect these ships, these hallowed grave sites, and preserve the special stories they can tell about our maritime and cultural heritage.”

Dare County Commissioners will also hear an update at their meeting Monday at 9 a.m.

Designated in 1975 as the nation’s first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects the wreck site of the Civil War Union ironclad, USS Monitor, which revolutionized naval warfare with its experimental design and rotating turret.

The Monitor is best known for its battle with the Confederate armored ship Virginia in Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. The engagement ended in a draw, but marked the first time ironclad ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden war ships.

The famed Civil War ironclad sank during a storm 16 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1862.

NOAA will host public meetings to answer questions and gather public input regarding the expansion at the following locations:

Feb. 9, 6 to 9 p.m.
North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, N.C. 27601

Feb. 10, 6 to 9 p.m.
North Carolina Maritime Museum
315 Front Street
Beaufort, N.C. 28516
(252) 728-7317

Feb. 11, 6 to 9 p.m.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
59200 Museum Drive
Hatteras, N.C. 27943
(252) 986-2995

Feb. 16, 6 to 9 p.m.
United States Navy Memorial
Main Auditorium
701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 380-0710

Feb. 17, 6 to 9 p.m.
Jennette’s Pier
Oceanview Hall
7223 S. Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, N.C. 27959
(252) 255-1501

Comments may also be submitted through March 18 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal with Docket Number NOAA-NOS-2015-0165.

Comments may also be mailed to David Alberg, Sanctuary Superintendent; Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, 100 Museum Drive; Newport News, Va. 23602.

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