POSTED: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 1:35pm
UPDATED: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 1:37pm
(CNN) — The remains of two U.S. Navy sailors, recovered in 2002 from the wreck of the service's first ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, the Navy said Tuesday.
"These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement. "It's important we honor these brave men and all they represent as we reflect upon the significant role Monitor and her crew had in setting the course for our modern Navy."
The Monitor sank during a storm on New Year's Eve 1862 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, with a loss of 16 sailors.
The wreck was discovered in 1974, but the remains that will going to Arlington were found in 2002 when a salvage team attempted to recover the ship's gun turret.
The remains will be interred at Arlington on March 8, the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862. It was the first clash between ironclads as the Monitor fought the Confederate ship CSS Virginia, earlier known as the Merrimack.
The Navy was unable to identify the specific sailors who will be interred at Arlington, but the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii was able to narrow their possible descendants down to 22 individuals from 10 families, the Navy said.