BEAUFORT -- State underwater archaeologists are scheduled to arrive Friday here to begin setting up for a dive expedition in Beaufort Inlet to recover a large anchor from the shipwreck presumed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge, flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard.
The two-week expedition begins just as moviegoers across America are excited about the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, which features the pirate and the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which records indicate Blackbeard sunk off North Carolina’s coast in 1718.
In addition to other work at the site, divers plan to retrieve a large anchor on May 26, then transport it to Gallant’s Channel property owned by the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort for a public viewing in the afternoon.
During a press conference held Wednesday at UNC-Wilmington, N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle said, “Blackbeard and piracy are important threads in Eastern North Carolina’s maritime heritage fabric. As a result of historic intrigue and pop-culture fascination, North Carolina realizes significant economic impact through visitation to historic and archaeological sites and attractions, the sale of pirate-related merchandise and festival attendance.
“The historic and economic value of this project is enormous, and we are grateful for this partnership with UNC Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College,” she said, referring to both institutions that will assist with the project.
QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing, Ph.D, discussed how real pirate booty is recovered, while showing artifacts from past expeditions and previewing expectations for recovery of the anchor.
“We can recover objects that have been on the sea floor for nearly 300 years. With patience, skill and determination we can extract from a crust of sand, shells and marine life the tools, implements and true story of 18th century pirates. That is the archaeologist’s dream come true,” he explained.
“Just think about how much we have learned about our state’s maritime history based on the artifacts already recovered. Imagine how much more we can learn about North Carolina’s colonial days as the expedition continues,” said UNC Wilmington Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo.
The University’s Research Vessel Cape Fear will be the primary research vessel on this expedition to the Queen Anne’s Revenge, providing support for diving, dredging, excavation, logistics and small artifact recovery. It will be staffed by UNC-Wilmington employees Capt. Jay Styron and Research Operations Manager Ken Johns, who will serve as dive safety officer.
UNCW underwater cameras will also be used to document the excavations and provide select video to Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions, who is responsible for video imagery for media and Internet.
Marine technicians from Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology Program will assist QAR researchers in lifting a large anchor from the ocean floor aboard the R/V Dan Moore, the college’s 85-foot ocean-going research vessel.
“With 150 students enrolled, CFCC’s Marine Technology program is a unique two-year program that prepares students for careers in a variety of maritime industries,” said Cape Fear Community College President Eric McKeithan.
The largest exhibit of QAR artifacts ever assembled will be shown starting June 11 in Beaufort at the N.C. Maritime Museum (www.ncmaritimemuseums.com) in a new exhibition “Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge 1718.”
The shipwreck was located in 1996 by Intersal Inc. of Florida by Operations Director Mike Daniel through research provided by Intersal president Phil Masters.