A 19th-century steamer that sank beneath the waves after a violent crash off the New Jersey coast has now been found.
The Robert J. Walker, a pre-Civil-War-era ship that surveyed the Gulf Coast, wrecked in 1860 after being struck by a commercial ship.
Divers discovered the shipwreck site in the 1970s, but the ship's identity has been shrouded in mystery until now. Scientists used the wreck's location and unique features to make the positive identification. [Civil War Shipwreck: Photos of the USS Monitor]
"Before this identification was made, the wreck was just an anonymous symbol on navigation charts," Rear Adm. Gerd Glang, director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Coast Survey, said in a statement. "Now, we can truly honor the 20 members of the crew and their final resting place. It will mark a profound sacrifice by the men who served during a remarkable time in our history."
The Robert J. Walker, commissioned in 1847, was one of the first iron-hulled steamers in the United States. The ship was used by the Coast Survey, which was commissioned in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to chart the nation's coastline and produce nautical maps. The Robert J. Walker contributed to that effort by surveying the Florida Keys and the area around Mobile, Ala.