IU underwater researchers unveil 17th-century Captain Kidd cannon

Captain Kidd's Cannon


By Jake New - Indiana Daily Student


The only pirate cannon ever recovered from the Caribbean has made its way to IU.

The centuries-old, chloride and coral-covered cannon that once belonged to the infamous Captain William Kidd was unveiled Thursday in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

One of 26 cannons beneath the clear waters just 70 feet off of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic, it was first examined by Archeologist and IU’s Office of Underwater Science Director Charlie Beeker and his team in 2007.

The 17th-century cannon is believed to have come from the Cara Merchant, a ship commandeered by Kidd, which he then abandoned in 1699 shortly before he was tried and hanged for piracy. The ship had been missing ever since.

“When we first looked at it, we knew that the Captain Kidd wreck was being hunted for by treasure hunters in this area,” Beeker said.

“As an archeologist, it just looked like the right time period. We read through all of his testimonials from his trial, and it just seemed like it was matching.

So we wrote a report to the government saying, ‘We’re going to do more research, but this could be Captain Kidd’s shipwreck.’”

With funding provided by a partnership between IU and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the cannon has been carefully transported to HPER’s underwater research lab for a five-year study.

The 300-year-old weapon will undergo a series of tests and experiments in its stay, but Beeker said the primary concern is conservation.


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