Member Update – ASME Names USS Monitor’s Worthington Pumps an Engineering Landmark

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 (ASME) in a August 26, 2016, ceremony at The Mariners’ Museum.

#Port Worthington pump during Conservation

Port Worthington pump during conservation. Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum

“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.”

Howard H. Hoege III, interim president and CEO of The Mariners’ Museum, said, “We are  distinctly honored to be awarded the ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark designation for the USS Monitor’s Worthington Pumps. This award is a symbol of the Museum’s role in preserving and presenting unique marine engineering inventions such as the Worthington Pumps, allowing us to inspire future generations to create new designs, technologies, and machines which will shape our world’s future.”

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.

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.”

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Photo courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum

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.

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.

The Monitor Center has crafted the only fully operational replica of one of the ship’s pumps. Will Hoffman, senior conservator/conservation project manager at the Monitor Center, gave a presentation about the making of the replica and a demonstration. Supporters of the Replica Project were recognized including Curtiss-Wright, Master Machine and Tool, and Hampton Rubber Company. Plans are to take the replica on a road tour that follows the Monitor Historic Trail from New York to North Carolina. When not on the road, the replica will be used for “STEAM” educational programming at the Museum.

The August 25 designation ceremony was sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers-Eastern Virginia Section and Curtiss-Wright.

Submitted by Jenna Dill, Marketing & Communications Manager, The Mariners’ Museum, August 25, 2016

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