NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The USS Monitor’s Worthington Direct-Acting Simplex Pumps were designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in a ceremony on August 25 at the Mariner’s Museum.
The simplex pumps from the iconic ironclad Monitor were designed by 19th-century engineering pioneer Henry R. Worthington, one of ASME’s co-founders. Worthington, a longtime associate of the Monitor’s designer John Ericsson, sold the pumps, built at Worthington & Baker Works in Greenpoint, New York, on January 10, 1862, for $582.22. They were installed on the Monitor to handle water for boiler, bilge, and fire-fighting needs.
“Landmark status for the Worthington simplex pumps recognizes the contribution of the steam pumps to industrial history and to the progress of mechanical engineering,” said K. Keith Roe, current president of ASME. “The Worthington steam pumps join a roster of more than 250 other ASME engineering landmarks throughout the world. Each represents a progressive step in the evolution of our profession, while exemplifying the innovation and vision embodied in engineers everywhere.”
Recovered from the Monitor’s wreck site off Cape Hatteras, NC, in 2001 by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Navy divers, the pumps are believed to be the oldest surviving examples of Worthington’s simplex design. Undergoing conservation at the USS Monitor Center’s Batten Conservation Complex at The Mariners’ Museum and Park, the pumps will go on display at the Museum when conservation is complete.
Dr. Reginald I. Vachon, past president of ASME, said, “The Worthington steam pumps stood apart for their efficiency and reliability. Their compact size and lightweight design were vital features in marine applications, and the pumps also served as the basis for a variety of other industrial applications.”
Vachon presented a bronze plaque to John V. Quarstein, director of the Monitor Center, and Dr. Paul Ticco, regional coordinator of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, at the August 25 ceremony. Guests were given behind-the-scenes laboratory tours led by Monitor Center conservators.