It is rare these days that shipwrecks as old as the one discovered off the North Carolina coast are still found.
Yet, a scientific expedition looking in fact for a mooring that had been lost during a previous research project, stumbled upon this late eighteenth century shipwreck, a well preserved testimony of the past.
The scientific expedition comprised researchers from North Carolina State University, Duke University, as well as the University of Oregon. All aboard the Atlantis, the research vessel of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, they were looking for a mooring that had been lost during a previous expedition.
Ironically, the instruments aboard could not find their mooring. Yet, they found something far more precious, the eighteenth century shipwreck. The manned submersible, called Alvin, as well as the underwater autonomous vehicle, titled Sentry, were of great help in pinning the relic and mapping a preliminary list of what the scientists were looking at.
The long, heavy iron chain gave the North Carolina shipwreck away. Slowly, ship timbers appeared, red bricks and glass bottles lying on the seafloor. A suite of objects was listed: one pottery jug, the all-so-useful metal compass, as well as an instrument that could be the sextant or octant of the shipwreck.
Bruce Terrell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Heritage Program, and chief archeologist stated:
“Lying more than a mile down in near-freezing temperatures, the site is undisturbed and well preserved”.
Cindy van Dover, the leader of the expedition and director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory asked the NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program for help in retrieving the shipwreck her team had found in the Blake Plateau.
Scientists at the NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program are excited by the opportunity to bring back an eighteenth century shipwreck. They will return to the site and to the best of their efforts try to bring a piece of history out of the waters.
James Delgado, who is the director of NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program stated that the shipwreck has been identified to lie approximately 150 miles off the coast of North Carolina, meeting the path of the Gulf Stream, a historic trade route on the sea.
Testimonies of the past such as this one don’t come by every day. If the shipwreck were retrieved and analyzed, perhaps it could tell a story of trade and manufacturing in the U.S. history.
Photo Credits princeton.edu