May 26, 2005
Experts Hope to Show Sunken Ship Was Blackbeard’s
OFF THE COAST OF ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. -- Researchers Tuesday raised another cannon from an underwater site two miles offshore, and hope it will help prove the sunken wreckage was once the flagship of the notorious pirate Blackbeard.
"We knew it the first day and we still have absolutely no doubt that she's the Queen Anne's Revenge," said Phil Masters, whose Florida-based research firm located the wreckage in 1996. "There is no other ship lost at Beaufort Inlet with anything more than 10 cannon, nor more than 110 tons that we know of."
The team has recovered more than 20 cannons from the site so far; since its discovery, more than 16,000 artifacts have been retrieved from the wreck.
Working Tuesday morning near the mouth of Beaufort Inlet, the researchers hauled the smaller of the two cannons - a 6-foot-long, 1,000-pound gun - from the wreck. An effort to lift a second cannon, about 8 feet long, failed. The team will try again Wednesday.
The expedition is the first for the researchers since a pair of professors published an article in a scholarly journal last month casting doubt about the find, saying it looks more like a mid-18th century merchant ship.
"Everybody's got an emotional attachment to Blackbeard," said Bradley Rodgers, an East Carolina University archaeologist and co-author of the article. "He is a very colorful part of our heritage. It doesn't surprise me at all that people are jumping on the bandwagon."
Project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing said his team has found strong clues the Queen Anne's Revenge sank at the site in 1718 - though the team hasn't been able to confirm it.
"Until such time as we find that absolute one artifact that has initials in it, we'll continue to keep the door open, but I can tell you that door's just about closed," Wilde-Ramsing said.
Blackbeard, whose real name was believed to be Edward Teach or Thatch, led a band of sea robbers who plagued the shipping lanes off North America and the Caribbean in the early 18th century.
Historians believe the Queen Anne's Revenge was the French slave ship La Concorde seized by Blackbeard and his men near the island of Martinique in 1717.
The story goes that Blackbeard ran aground with Queen Anne's Revenge and its sister sloop Adventure near what is now Beaufort Inlet. After abandoning the ships, Blackbeard was eventually tracked down at Ocracoke Inlet by volunteers from the Royal Navy and killed in a battle Nov. 22, 1718.
On the Net:
Research team: http://www.qaronline.org/