Queen Anne's expedition under way

By Jeannette Pippin - JD News

A four-week fall expedition at the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site is under way, and the first look at the wreck site since Hurricane Irene brought good news.

The hurricane swept the North Carolina coast in late August without causing major disruption to the shipwreck site, said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.

A sand berm placed near the site several years ago seems to be helping protect the site from storm damage, including minimizing scour, where sand is washed away and exposes artifacts.

“Last week we did a check of the site. We were very concerned after Hurricane Irene, but the site seems to have weathered the storm pretty well,” Wilde-Ramsing said. “It was not scoured out and, also, it was not completely covered up (by sand).”

After the one-day dive last week to take a preliminary look at the site and begin preparations, the QAR project team kicked off the four-week expedition Monday and will be further assessing the site’s condition, stabilizing areas where it’s needed and continuing the excavation and recovery of artifacts.

The excavation of artifacts will focus on a previously known scour area in the area of the vessel’s foremast and galley area.

“We’re not to the bow but we’re getting up there,” Wilde-Ramsing said.

A highlight of the expedition is the planned recovery of cannon C23, one of the ship’s largest guns, at the close of the expedition.

And surrounding the cannon are a kettle, wooden deadeyes, a pewter plate, cannon balls and other unidentified artifacts to be recovered.

Also during the expedition, the QAR team will continue “in situ” conservation monitoring. Aluminum rods called sacrificial anodes have been attached to all but three remaining cannons to change the electrochemical process that corrodes iron in saltwater, reducing or even reversing the amount of salts absorbed by the iron objects.

“We’re seeing really good results,” Wilde-Ramsing said.

The process will help reduce the amount of conservation time in the lab once the artifacts are raised.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ R/V Shell Point will be used as the principle recovery vessel.

Wilde-Ramsing said that due to budget cuts the vessel will only be available for two of the four weeks, and as much excavation as possible we be done during that time.

East Carolina University will be providing volunteers and the use of its barge. NOAA’s Marine Sanctuary Program will provide the vessel for raising the cannon.

Mark Wilde Ramsing Queen Anne's Revenge East Carolina university Carteret county QAR NOAA