For video of the cannon recovery, click here: http://widget.newsinc.com/_cfvp/playlist16x9_player.html?CID=15348&WID=25274&VID=25302827&freewheel=91764&sitesection=havenews_hom_non_fro&external_url=http://www.havenews.com/
BEAUFORT — A small arsenal of guns covered the deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Smilax Monday after a mission that seized a few pieces of history.
Five cannons were raised Monday from the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site at Beaufort Inlet, the most recovered at one time from the wreck considered to be the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship.
“Today is definitely a red-letter day: five guns coming off the site,” said David Moore, who has been a member of the QAR team since recovery efforts began.
The five concretion-covered cast iron cannons averaged about 2,000 pounds each and are among the largest of the guns recovered from the shipwreck site. They fired six-pound cannons and were used in defense of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which sank after running aground nearly 300 years ago.
The QAR team of researchers has identified nearly 30 cannons at the site and the ship may have had as many as 40 heavy cannons on it when it sank.
With the five raised Monday, 22 cannons have been recovered from the site.
The recovery Monday was the last opportunity for bringing up the artifacts with this week’s close of the 2013 fall dive expedition at the shipwreck site. For the heavy lifting, the crew of the Smilax stepped in to raise each cannon out of the water and onto its deck, where they were readied for transport to the QAR conservation lab in Greenville.
The Fort Macon-based Smilax is the oldest ship in Coast Guard service and holds the title of Queen of the Fleet.
Smilax Commanding Officer Scott McAloon said Monday’s mission was a unique opportunity to see history recovered from the ocean and for the Coast Guard to partner with other agencies to accomplish the project.
“It’s a great day for North Carolina and a great day for the Coast Guard to have this opportunity,” he said.
For Kimberly Kenyon, who began working at the QAR lab as a conservator earlier this year, it was her first trip to see cannons raised from the site.
“It’s exciting to be dealing with something so historic and significant. It’s a big day for North Carolina,” she said.
In addition to the cannons raised, two large concretions were raised Monday that include cask hoops and other artifacts.
Earlier in the fall dive, two smaller cannons were raised. Kenyon said several timbers, including a 7-foot piece of the ship, were also recovered.
As the fall dive came to a close, the QAR team remained optimistic that full recovery will be possible next year.
“We’re going to continue excavating the site and have it completed by 2014,” Project Director Billy Ray Morris said.
An extensive Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit can be seen at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort, the official repository for artifacts from the QAR site.
Jannette Pippin is a reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News.