Posts Tagged ‘Shipwreck’

Sec. Kluttz and Chief Deputy Sec. Karin Cochran with QAR project supporters Bucky and Wendy Oliver

Sec. Kluttz and Chief Deputy Sec. Karin Cochran with QAR project supporters Bucky and Wendy Oliver

Though Sec. Susan Kluttz visited the Maritime Museum in Beaufort two weeks ago for the kickoff of the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR) spring dive season, she didn’t get a chance to see all that the museum has to offer. She got that chance Wednesday after seeing the QAR shipwreck site and meeting with some of people who are making the project’s work possible.

The day started out early with a boat ride out to the QAR shipwreck site. Though rough seas prevented the project’s archaeologists from raising cannon as they had planned, Sec. Kluttz was still able to see where the recovery operations are happening and some of vessels that the project’s team are using.

State archaeologists near the QAR shipwreck site

After the boat trip, the Secretary joined Bucky and Wendy Oliver and other project supporters at the Boathouse at Front Street Village for a presentation by the QAR’s lead conservator Sarah Watkins-Kenney on what happens to the artifacts after they’re picked up from the sea floor. The lunch was followed by a tour of the N.C. Maritime Museum at Beaufort, which is the official repository for artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck.

The theme of the day was the importance of public-private partnerships at Cultural Resources and the impact that private donations have on ensuring the QAR project’s completion. Click here to find out how you can help support work on Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge.

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This post was co-written by Sarah Watkins-Kenney, QAR Lab Director and the Underwater Archaeology Branch’s Chief Conservator and graduate assistants Jeremy Borrelli and Hannah Smith.

The QAR Lab has been located at East Carolina University’s West Research Campus since 2003.  Through this partnership with ECU the QAR Lab is able to provide an exemplary site for contributing to education, training and research in maritime archaeology and conservation of archaeological artifacts. Staff at the QAR Lab has worked with students and researchers from ECU and other universities since 2003.

Each year we interact with ECU students through class visits, lectures, facilitating Master’s thesis research, providing volunteer opportunity and hosting graduate assistantships.  Since 2003, hundreds of students have been touched by our team’s outreach efforts.

This year we are pleased to welcome two new students as graduate assistants at the QAR Lab: Hannah Smith and Jeremy Borrelli. Each tells their story below.

Jeremy Borrelli
My name is Jeremy Borrelli, and I am one of the two new Graduate Assistants working at the QAR Conservation Lab at ECU. I received my undergraduate degree from SUNY New Paltz in Anthropology, with a focus in archaeology. During my tenure at New Paltz, I was involved with several dig sites around the Hudson Valley ranging from a prehistoric hunting camp to a Native American burial to the excavation of a historic stone house. I’ve always had a passion for history so being able to work directly with the physical remains of people from the past is something special for me. I became especially interested in artifacts from historic sites, such as Huguenot Street in New Paltz, where we excavated areas in and around the stone houses.

For the past eight years I’ve probably spent more time in water than I have on land as a competitive swimmer. Along with swimming, I’ve worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and Masters swimming coach so it’s safe to say that I have a certain comfort being around water! In 2009, I got SCUBA certified and learned more about the growing field of maritime archaeology. Ironically, I remember reading an article in the magazine Sport Diver about the Divedown program that was offered to divers allowing them to dive the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck in North Carolina. At the time I thought that it was so cool that something so enigmatic had been found and that maybe someday I’d be able to see or work on something like that.

My background in swimming and the water coupled with my interests in archaeology led me to become interested in maritime archaeology. This past August I began graduate school at ECU in the Maritime Studies program. Through the program I was granted a great opportunity to work here at the QAR Conservation Lab; the same wreck that got me interested in and introduced me to maritime archaeology! I am looking forward to interacting with the artifacts and learning from the skilled conservators and archaeologists working on the site as I begin my graduate studies in the field of maritime archaeology.

Hannah Smith
After receiving my B.A. in Studio Art/Art History and German from Bucknell University in 2010, I took a roundabout path to ECU’s M.A. in Anthropology program and the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab.  Originally planning to become an art conservator, I took some time off before applying to graduate school and studied more chemistry and studio art and tried to get more experience in conservation. As a result, I spent a little time in the QAR Lab in the summer of 2010, but never imagined I’d get to come back.

During the summer of 2011, I assisted with William Peace University’s Field School at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site, where I’d been volunteering in a variety of roles since the fall of 2010. Getting to be involved with that dig and running the field lab, reminded me how much I enjoy archaeology.  After spending some time thinking about it and plenty of advice from the people around me, I decided to apply to ECU’s M.A. in Anthropology program, and focus on Historical Archaeology and conservation.  I hope to combine my interest in historical archaeology of the southeastern United States with conservation as I complete my Master’s thesis.  I was thrilled when I found out that I had gotten the Department’s Graduate Assistant position at the QAR Lab and would get to continue working on the archaeological site that started this journey.

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This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week. 

Strong winds and rain kept us from getting out onsite the first three days of week five.  We were able to keep busy processing ballast stones and panning sediment from exterior units to make sure we didn’t need to extend our excavation limits.  After two days of looking at micro artifacts, the crew was very excited to get a “behind the scenes” tour of the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium from Ethan Simmons on Wednesday.  Thursday and Friday the weather was great, so we finished out the week strong working two very long days on site.

Jonathan Bird of Jonathan Bird’s Blue World was a guest with our project this week.  Originally we planned to have his crew out on site for two days to get some artifact excavation and recovery, and one day in the lab to get the other side of the story.  Weather dictated otherwise, but we were able to get his crew to the lab, to the museum and on site during the course of the week.  Since Thursday was our first day on site in six days, we were not at a point where we could excavate and recover but we did manage to get him on site helping out with some in situ monitoring of anchors and cannon.  We enjoyed having Jonathan and his crew on board and look forward to seeing his show about the QAR.

Thursday was spent digging out part of the pile, exposing large artifacts for corrosion monitoring.  A2 was tested and a new anode was installed to continue cathodic protection.  C7, C6, C11 and C8 were all tested, C6 was the only other cannon that was not so heavily concreted it could accept an anode.  There are three more cannon at the pile to test, so this will be done in the coming week.  Before the end of the season, all artifacts that have had an anode installed will be tested again.

Friday was busy but the crew was able to knock out two more units that were laden with ballast stones and a few large concretions.  By the time we made it back to the dockside it was getting dark so we stored the artifacts in tanks and will complete the dockside documentation in the coming week.  This was a major feat to complete these two units in one day and it wouldn’t have happened without such a great crew!

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This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week. 

Week four was a very productive week with beautiful weather on our side and by Friday, (09/28) 14 units were complete.  Out of the past four weeks we have actually had 12 working days on site with 145 dives that has covered 350 sq. ft.  The crew is working at a good pace, when we can get out there.  The first three days of week five have been spent on shore due to inclement weather.  There is certainly no shortage of things to do when we are not on site, but most of us would rather be diving!  Ballast stones recovered this year were processed; approximately 775 stones totaling 1,405 lbs (637.3 Kg) have been picked up so far.

The Gird Units Worked This Fall

The great crew we do have working out here is really making the difference because they all put in 110% when it’s needed.  Some are veterans and some are relatively new to the team. Our Captain is Gerry Compeau from UNCW.  The core divers from the UAB offices are Wendy Welsh, Julep Gillman-Bryan, Nathan Henry and Chris Southerly. Our new boss, Billy Ray Morris, has only just joined our team and we hope to get him out on the site soon.  David Moore from the N.C. Maritime Museum at Beaufort is always part of the crew as is underwater videographer Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions LLC. You can learn more about this motley crew on our website.

We’d like to give a special shout out to this year’s archaeological technicians we have. All seasoned divers on the QAR site.

Lisa Briggs received her M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and came to the project as a volunteer only a few months later. She returned as a contract employee in 2008 and 2010, and we’re happy to have her back this year. Lisa has surveyed and excavated wrecks in the Caribbean, Greece, Cyprus, the Pacific and the Atlantic, ranging from a Middle Minoan wreck (c.a. 2000 BCE) in Crete to a mid-18th century sloop in the British Virgin Islands. A professional scuba instructor and technical diver, Lisa has explored the reefs and searched for wrecks all over the world but claims QAR is her favorite underwater excavation.

Joshua Marano is a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well as a member of the United States Coast Guard Reserve.  Josh is a life-long North Carolina resident and previously volunteered with the QAR project in 2005, 2007 and 2011.  While working on his M.A. thesis on the role of risk in the United States Life-Saving Service along the North Carolina coast, Josh was awarded the highly sought after National Park Service internship with Biscayne National Park. Once QAR fieldwork is over for the season Josh will be spending the next year gaining more invaluable experience in Florida.

Laurel Seaborn is also a graduate student with East Carolina University’s Program in Maritime Studies as well. She worked on the project last year as an intern, getting the opportunity to dive and assist in the lab.  Seaborn has worked  as a captain on sailing ships of all sizes and as a sailing instructor on several seas around the world. Her time aboard tall ships inspired an interest in maritime history and motivated her to return to university to study for a second career in the field of underwater archaeology. Seaborn feels the study of this eighteenth-century pirate shipwreck has been a highlight!

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This post, by QAR Field Director, Conservator and Laboratory Manager Wendy Welsh, is the first in series of field updates we’ll be bringing you each week. 

When we returned to the site on Thursday, the majority of our equipment was buried under about 2 feet of sediment! The morning was spent digging out the grid frames and getting ourselves back to where we were the week before. By the afternoon when low tide came upon us it was time to recover the artifacts from unit 228. Some of the worst visibility can be experienced at low tide and this time was no different. In situations such as these it is best to have a minimum number of people in the hole just for safety as you have to navigate with a lift basket around hoses, lines and the main ballast pile with artifacts proud of the seafloor.  This crew is very experienced in dark water diving, so by the end of the day the majority of the artifacts, mainly ballast stones, were removed from unit 228.  The crew worked an extra-long day seeing how three days during the week were missed, the first ever 7 a.m.-7 p.m. shift was put in on the QAR site!  The crew celebrated with dinner at No Name Pizza, a time-honored tradition with this project.

The long hours the crew put in on the previous day really paid off on Friday. High tide was at the perfect time during the day to have great visibility for the recovery of artifacts. The simple fact that one can see makes working underwater so much more efficient. When the visibility is good we usually have four people working on the recovery of a unit. One diver is mapping, one diver is digging, one diver is tagging artifacts and handing them to the diver manning the lift basket, which makes working through units so much faster. By the end of the day we completed two units (228 & 229) with the majority of 230 recovered. The site was closed up for the weekend as we secured our dredges and grid frames.

Some additions to the crew this week were Shanna Daniel, QAR Conservator and Dave “Framis” Wertheimer of Nautilus Productions.  Shanna came out from the lab to help with artifact recovery and post processing.  Dave shot video of the topside activities that go on but managed to find himself put to work on the sluice box from time to time.  We enjoyed having them out but only wish the weather was better for their visit.

The weather looks great for today, so it will hopefully be another productive week.

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Memorial Day has always been a curious commemoration to me.  Once a solemn day of remembrance of those who have died in service to the United States, it is now the unofficial start of summer—with many people equating Memorial Day with a trip to the beach.  If you are going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the holiday weekend, you can actually restore some of the original meaning of the observance at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.

There is an extraordinary artifact on display at the Museum called an Enigma machine.  This very machine was aboard a German sub that was sunk off the North Carolina coast by the U.S. Navy in 1942.  The Germans used this complex coding device for secret communications, particularly in divulging locations of enemy vessels and supply convoys.    There is a fascinating behind the scenes story, too.

While most people know that lots of ships have been lost in the treacherous shoals off the Outer Banks, not that many realize that during World Wars I and II, German U-boats (submarines) patrolled the North Carolina coast wreaking havoc on ships that they encountered.  The worst time for the attacks was January to July of 1942.  At the beginning of the war, Germans had sophisticated submarines and highly trained crews, whereas the United States military had not put much emphasis on undersea warfare.

By January of 1942 there were about 19 German U-boats patrolling the Atlantic coastline—with 2 or 3 at any given time hiding at Diamond Shoals to attack ships as they rounded Cape Hatteras.  At the height of what has come to be known as the Battle of Torpedo Junction, the Germans were sinking a ship almost every day—freighters, tankers, passenger ships—the losses were tremendous.

The American military was, of course, hard at work learning how to detect and defeat the U-boats.  Their first hit came April 14, 1942, when the destroyer USS Roper sank U-85 off of the Outer Banks between Wimble Shoals and Cape Hatteras.  Navy divers surveyed and attempted to salvage the U-85 for about a week, but efforts were not very successful and, with a war on, the men were needed elsewhere.  The submarine was left to the elements.

The U-boat wreck was explored by recreational divers for many years.  In July of 2001 divers salvaged the submarine’s Enigma machine.  Although it is still being conserved, the stable parts are on display.  The Enigma machine, which is on indefinite loan to the Museum by the German government, presents an incredible opportunity to get a peek at a super-secret World War II weapon while visiting the scenic Outer Banks—an ideal blend of Memorial Day observance and the beach.  For more about the recovery and conservation of the Enigma machine, click here.

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Corolla Shipwreck

Underwater Archaeology Branch Head Richard Lawrence recently sat down to talk about one of North Carolina’s oldest shipwrecks that will soon get a final home at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras. 

The wreckage was hidden under sand and water on the shore of Corolla for centuries. But, winds and tides slowly uncovered the shipwreck over the course of a year. Earlier this month, it was successfully moved to higher ground by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Office of State Archaeology, Corolla Fire and Rescue and volunteers from Currituck County. 

Officials are now working on plans to move the 12-ton structure by truck more than 90 miles to the Museum in Hatteras, one of three North Carolina Maritime Museums in the Department of Cultural Resources Museum of History Division.

Thanks to photographer John Aylor for supplying these images.

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