How often do we witness the discovery of centuries old shipwrecks? North Carolina researchers just stumbled upon an 18th century such historical piece.
An expedition led by Cindy van Dover, the director of Duke University’s Marine Laboratory and counting researchers from the North Carolina State University embarked aboard the Atlantis research vessel belonging to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Complete with the Alvin submarine and the unmanned underwater vehicle Sentry, the researchers had set out to find a mooring lost while a previous expedition had been underway.
In the deep waters the research team could not find the mooring. Yet, they stumbled upon something precious. The shipwreck and a number of relics were discovered in the Graveyard of the Atlantic, just short off the North Carolina Coast, in the Gulf Stream line.
Currently, it is believed the shipwreck belongs to the 18th century. But, pending its retrieval, NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program researchers are bound to turn the pages of history and hopefully identify the ship.
The director of the Marine Heritage Program at NOAA, James Delgado stated:
“Violent storms sent down large numbers of vessels off the Carolina coasts, but few have been located because of the difficulties of depth and working in an offshore environment”.
As the research team was equipped with Alvin and Sentry, the discovery was made easier, albeit it was pure chance that brought it to light. Typically, sonar mapping of the seafloor and deep waters renders such historical treasures as uninteresting black dots, when it registers them at all.
The shipwreck is believed to have been a merchant ship, travelling along the notable Gulf Stream trade route.
The relics found with the ship include some glass bottles, potentially indicating the merchandise it would have carried onboard, a pile of bricks that are bright red, a piece of navigating equipment that might have well been the octant or sextant of the trade ship, as well as a heavy iron chain.
The shipwreck could be retrieved or at least analyzed in situ. Bruce Terrell, the chief archaeologist of the Marine Heritage Program stated:
“Lying more than a mile down in near-freezing temperatures, the site is undisturbed and well preserved”.
We hope that the fascinating finding will enable the researchers of NOAA’s Marine Heritage Program to write another page of U.S. trade and expansion.
Photo Credits raremaps.com