National News

Blackbeard's anchor recovered off NC coast

Posted May 27, 2011 5:18 a.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2011 2:44 p.m. EDT

— An anchor from what's believed to be the wreck of the pirate Blackbeard's flagship saw the light of day Friday for the first time in almost 300 years.

Archaeologists believe the anchor, raised from the ocean floor off Beaufort, is from the "Queen Anne's Revenge," which sank in 1718, five months before Blackbeard was killed in a battle.

The shipwreck was found in 1996.

Ken Howard, director of the North Carolina Maritime Museum, is certain about the value of the find.

"This is the Queen Anne's Revenge, he said.

"This is Blackbeard's ship, the most famous pirate in history, the one name everyone recognizes. I'd say this is incredibly priceless."

The recovery coincides with the release this month of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which features both Blackbeard and the Queen Anne's Revenge.

Wendy Welsh, who was part of the dive team that brought the anchor to the surface, hedged, but just a little bit. 

"As an archaeologist, you always have to leave yourself an out and say you're 99.9 percent sure, but you ask anyone who works on this project, and we all think this is the Queen Anne's Revenge.

A research team led by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Underwater Archeology Branch directed the operation, which lifted the 3,000-pound anchor from 20 feet deep. The anchor is about 13 feet long and 8 feet across. The artifact is the second-largest item at the site, out-sized only by another anchor.

Lifting the anchor will let archaeologists see what lies beneath it, a project that could continue for years.

Welsh said the operation was a textbook execution. "The anchor was just hovering there. It was a wonderful feeling to be involved in this," she said.

"Just to see it raise up nice and even, it was unbelievable."

The research vessel Dan Moore headed for port with the anchor on board. It will be sent to Greenville for conservation.