By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A Civil War monument in Greenpoint depicting the USS Monitor – which was built in Greenpoint, then clad with iron at the Brooklyn Navy Yard -- has been defaced with paint.
Community activist Phil DePaolo told the New York Post that the Greenpoint Monitor statue was vandalized on Sunday with buckets of white paint. The vandal wrote the initials “JJ” near the bottom of the 1938 monument.
The statue, which was installed in 1938, depicts a man working on the legendary ironclad battleship.
The Monitor is best known for its part in the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia, where it faced off against the Confederate ironclad Virginia (previously called the Merrimac).
The historic battle, the first between two ironclad warships, ended in a draw. The Monitor went on to take part in several other battles before it sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C., in 1862.
The Monitor was designed by Swedish inventor John Ericsson and built in 1861 at the Continental Shipyards at Oak and West streets on the Greenpoint waterfront. It then sailed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where it was clad in iron and received a celebrity launching.
The Monitor was innovative in several other respects, including the first 360-degree rotating armored gun turret on an operational warship. Its heavy turret made it suitable for river battles but not for rough seas, and contributed to its sinking.
“During the Civil War, there was a lot of shipbuilding in Brooklyn, all along the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfront, in Red Hook and at the Navy Yard,” said John Manbeck, former Brooklyn borough historian.
The wreck of the Monitor was discovered by divers in 1973, and many of its components, including its turret, cannons and propeller, have now been raised and are on display at the National Mariners’ Museum at Newport News, Va.
A Greenpoint Monitor Museum was founded in 1896, but the organization has not yet been able to find a permanent home for its collection.