Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was the first national marine sanctuary ever designated in the United States. It protects the wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, and is considering a boundary expansion to protect additional shipwrecks.
The waters off coastal North Carolina contain some of the most significant shipwrecks in the United States. Many of the shipwrecks in the region represent World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic, the closest area of conflict to the continental United States. Explore the wreck sites and discover why these shipwrecks are important not only to North Carolina, but to our nation’s maritime heritage as well.
Our nation has a rich tradition of honoring and protecting special places that have defined our history. From the battlefields of Yorktown to the now peaceful waters of Pearl Harbor, these places commemorate the valor and sacrifice of generations past. Off the coast of North Carolina lies the remains of a forgotten World War II battlefield that serves as the final resting place for nearly 1,700 men lost during the Battle of the Atlantic. After years of archaeological research and public input, NOAA has proposed to expand Monitor National Marine Sanctuary to include this significant collection of historic shipwreck sites off the North Carolina coast.
In 1942, World War II came to the U.S. East Coast as German U-boats patrolled important shipping corridors. Today, countless ships – graves for the Merchant Mariners and Allied service members who sail them – rest on the seafloor off the North Carolina coast. Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is working to preserve this historic collection of World War II ships.
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 14 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.