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A provision of the Appropriations Act of 2014 (Section 19.4) created a special fund for the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project. The project has been exploring and salvaging the wreckage of a sailing ship that was commanded by the notorious 18th century English pirate Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. Blackbeard’s 300-ton flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR), has been decaying in its watery grave on the sea floor of Beaufort Inlet, one mile off the southern coast of North Carolina, for more than 300 years until it was discovered in 1996 by a marine recovery outfit.
Although the state legislature has provided funding for recovery efforts in the past, tight budgets have left the project underfunded. In order to secure funding to continue excavating the wreck, the General Assembly created the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project Special Fund. The fund is an interest‑bearing revenue fund within the Department of Cultural Resources, Office of Archives and History that consists of all receipts derived from private donations, grant funds, and earned revenue.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge Project is being conducted by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and as of 2007 more than 15,000 objects have been rescued and preserved.
Toward the end of the Golden Age of Piracy (1689-1718), Blackbeard served as a lieutenant on the English pirate Benjamin Hornigold’s crew. Captain Hornigold preyed on unsuspecting merchant ships in the Caribbean, and in late 1717, Hornigold and his crew seized a French slave ship, Le Concorde de Nantes, near the island of Martinique and Blackbeard was made captain of the stolen ship.1
Blackbeard promptly renamed his new ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge” and equipped her with 40 guns. At the time, the Boston News Letter described Blackbeard as the commander of a “French ship of 32 Guns, a Briganteen of 10 guns and a Sloop of 12 guns.” He is thought to have been in command of at least 150 men and three war vessels before being slain by a military force commissioned by two American colonies in 1718.2
The wreckage site has been completely mapped in the Old Topsail Inlet in North Carolina, now known as Beaufort Inlet. After artifacts are recovered from the wreckage they are kept stable in wet storage to prevent deterioration; this facilitates the lengthy process of cleaning, desalination, consolidation, drying, and analysis at the QAR Conservation Lab in Greenville that will culminate in their public display and interpretation.3 The QAR Conservation Lab is open to the public and regular tours of the facility and operations are offered.
More than 300 restored artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge are on display at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Artifacts ranging from a cannon to the bones of livestock consumed on board to medical devices used to help keep the crew healthy are on display. The exhibit also incorporates interactive displays, quizzes and props to help tell the story of Blackbeard and offer a look into what the future holds for the shipwreck site.4
A new documentary “Secrets of Blackbeard’s Ship” recently aired on the Smithsonian Channel detailing the life of Blackbeard and the remains of the QAR shipwreck off the Crystal Coast of North Carolina.
Check out this video from Nautilus Productions as they explore the wreck site near Beaufort Inlet and you can learn more about the salvage project by visiting the official website for the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project.
To contribute to the effort, join the Friends of the Queen Anne’s Revenge — a private, not-for-profit group that supports the work of the state of North Carolina on the recovery of the wreck of Blackbeard’s flagship.
And to learn how to talk like a pirate, be sure to read this informative article.