Scientists Discover Shipwreck That Might Date Back To 1700s Off North Carolina Coast


Scientists from Duke University had an accidental find while exploring the ecology of deep-sea methane. They discovered a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina and this may be from the era of the American Revolution.

Cindy Van Dover, a Marine scientist from Duke University, and colleagues accidentally found the previously unknown shipwreck more than a mile deep off the waters on Sunday using a manned submarine called Alvin and an underwater robot, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's (WHOI) robotic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry.

Van Dover related that he already led four expeditions to the site using submersible research technology and found it ironic that they were actually exploring within a hundred meters to the wreck site unaware that it was there. He added that that the find is a reminder that despite major advances in accessing and exploring the ocean, the sea still holds its secrets close.

The team found broken remains of the wreck which include an iron chain, red bricks, wooden ship timbers, glass bottles, a metal compass and an unglazed pottery jug.

After examining the photos of the artifacts, archeologists said that the wreck appears to date back from between the late 18th century and early 19th century, the time when the U.S was expanding its international trade by sea.  The age of the shipwreck makes the discovery a rare find.

"This discovery underscores that new technologies we're developing to explore the deep-sea floor yield not only vital information about the oceans, but also about our history," said David Eggleston, from the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST).

NOAA's Marine Heritage Program was already alerted of the find and will now try to identify the date and identify the ship. Bruce Terrell, the program's chief archeologist, said that it is possible to know the time and country of origin of the lost ship by examining the bottles, ceramics and other artifacts that were found in the ship.  

The shipwreck lies in near freezing temperature in an undisturbed and well preserved site so experts said that a careful archeological study could definitely provide more details about the wreck. The location of the wreck also lies along the path of the Gulf Stream, which was used as a maritime highway for centuries.

Experts said that while the find is exciting, it is unexpected because violent storms have sent down vessels off the Carolina coasts albeit few have been found because of the depth and difficulties involved in working in an offshore environment.

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