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Centuries-old shipwreck located off Eastern US seaboard

Centuries-old shipwreck located off Eastern US seaboard

Sonar spots an unknown shipwreck, possibly dating to the American Revolution off the coast of North Carolina.

Photo of the remnants of the shipwreck in the seabed off of the North Carolina coast.

Artefacts on the wreck indicate it might date to the American Revolution. Amid the shipwreck’s broken remains are an iron chain, a pile of wooden ship timbers, red bricks (possibly from the ship cook’s hearth), glass bottles, an unglazed pottery jug, a metal compass, and another navigational instrument that might be an octant or sextant.

Marine scientists from Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon spotted the wreck while using WHOI’s robotic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry and the manned submersible Alvin. The team had been searching for a mooring that was deployed on a previous research trip in the area in 2012.

“Lying more than a mile down in near-freezing temperatures, the site is undisturbed and well preserved,” said Bruce Terrell, chief archaeologist at NOAA's Marine Heritage Program. “Careful archaeological study in the future could definitely tell us more.”

“The find is exciting, but not unexpected,” James Delgado, director of the Marine Heritage Program said. “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.”

The wreck rests along the path of the Gulf Stream, which mariners have used for centuries as a maritime highway to North American ports, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and South America.

In a twist, although the team discovered a piece of maritime history, that abandoned mooring remains missing.

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Press releases from Divers Alert Network (DAN)