Washington, March 06, 2012 – UPS today delivered two delicate and historic forensic marvels, the reconstructed faces of sailors whose remains were found on the USS Monitor. The sailors died when the ship sank in a storm 150 years ago.
A Civil War-era Union ironclad warship that revolutionized naval warfare, the USS Monitor is best known for its battle with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia off Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. The engagement marked the first time iron ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden ships.
Engineers at UPS’s package testing lab near Chicago constructed custom, shock-proof containers to transport the delicate sculptures to Washington, D.C., for today’s unveiling ceremony. The engineers used vertical vibration units along with compression and atmospheric testing machines to simulate the rigors of the shipping environment and to test the tolerances of the skulls.
The sculptures were created by forensic anthropologists at Louisiana State University’s FACES lab in Baton Rouge. UPS assigned a certified loadmaster to the flight from Louisiana to Dulles Airport to ensure precise load and unload methods required for such a critical move.
The skeletal remains of the two sailors were found in the Monitor’s gun turret during a 2002 recovery operation conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Navy. While much has already been learned about the physical characteristics of the men, and DNA was obtained from their remains, their identities remain a mystery.
NOAA hopes the public and the forensic reconstruction sculptures will prove successful in an on-going effort to identify the sailors. The sculptures were unveiled at a ceremony today at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
To view interviews from the UPS Package Laboratory and the LSU FACES lab, plus transportation footage from the actual move, please go to youtube.com/ups.