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Search for Money Could Sink Salvage Effort on Suspected Pirate Ship

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RALEIGH — Some salvage workers have a sinking feeling about the search for artifacts on what is believed to be Blackbeard's flagship.

A few years ago, archaeologists found what they think is the pirate's ship -- the Queen Anne's Revenge -- in Beaufort Inlet. But the state's money troubles could leave its contents on the ocean floor.

Intersal, Inc. found the wreck four years ago, along with a treasure chest of artifacts. Only 5 percent of the artifacts have been brought to the surface, which means there are still millions on the ocean floor.

But almost no money remains to recover and treat them.

Since 1997, the legislature has given an average of $200,000 a year to the Blackbeard project. At that rate, salvage teams say it would take 25 years to excavate the site. And by then, they say, the artifacts may have deteriorated so much there would be nothing left. They say they need millions to finish the job.

SomeCarteret Countylawmakers plan to file a bill next week asking for $500,000 toward the project.

"I grew up on Blackbeard Road in Wilmington," says Sen. Patrick Ballantine. To him, these artifacts "will prove that Blackbeard was not just folklore, but a part of our North Carolina heritage."

Carteret County Rep. Jean Preston says she has been really disappointed at the lack of support for the project.

"We're struggling as legislators just to try to keep it afloat," she says.

Salvage crews will dive again in May, but they will be out of money by July. And without more funding, the Queen Anne's Revenge is dead in the water.


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