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2010 ECU Nearshore Expedition
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The Shipwrecks

Through the years, thousands of ships have sunk off the coast of North Carolina. Many of these shipwrecks have washed on shore and can be easily seen by beach goers as they stroll the sandy beaches. Some are submerged just a few hundred feet off the beach and are easily accessible by scuba diving. Many of these wrecks have never been positively identified, and they offer a great mystery waiting to be solved. In order to help solve the mystery, and to hopefully aid in their identification, students from East Carolina University's Program in Maritime Studies are working this summer to survey and document several wreck sites along the beaches of the Outer Banks.

Beach wrecks to be investigated:

Corolla larger image (Photo Courtesy of NC Underwater Archaeology Branch)
Corolla/George Browne Wreck - This wreck is possibly one of the oldest wreck sites discovered as it is thought to be from the early to mid-1600's. The shifting sands have covered and uncovered this shipwreck several times since it first appeared on the beaches of Corolla in January 2010. It also has moved down the beach about 2.5 miles! In March 2010, the wreck was recovered and moved behind the Corolla lighthouse. It will eventually be moved to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC.

O'Keefe larger image (Photo Courtesy of ECU)
O'Keefe Site - This shipwreck is named after Charles O'Keefe who discovered the site in 1997. It is thought to be a 19th century shipwreck and is located on Currituck Beach. Its stern is relatively intact and there are some buried rigging elements.

Buffel larger image (Photo Courtesy of ECU)
159 Buffel Head Road Site - Located at Bodie Island Beach, this wreck is thought to be from the 19th century. The disarticulated debris located on the beach is suspected to be the stern section.

Nags Head larger image (Photo Courtesy of ECU)
Nags Head Wreck - This site could possibly be the wreck of the Francis E. Waters, which was built in 1882 and home ported in Baltimore, MD. It was a two-masted schooner carrying shingles and lumber when it was wrecked during a hurricane on October 23, 1889. All six people on board died when the ship went down. Throughout time the shipwreck has been covered and uncovered by storms, and it was eventually recovered and placed on display at Nags Head Town Hall.

laura barnes wreck
Laura Barnes larger image (Photo Courtesy of ECU)
Laura A. Barnes - Near Oregon Inlet on Bodie Island Beach lies the remains of this four-masted schooner. The Laura A. Barnes was built in Camden, ME and sailed from 1918 until 1921. The ship wrecked without cargo in 1921 due to fog and strong winds and currents. There was a crew of eight, who were all rescued during eight trips by breeches buoy.

Submerged Shipwrecks to be explored, weather permitting:

Paraguay/Kyzickes larger image (Photo Courtesy of NC Underwaer Archaeology Branch)
S.S Paraguay/Kyzickes - An iron tanker designed and built in Lorain, OH. It was originally designed as a dry carrier of ore and coal with each bunker able to hold 380 tons of coal. However, the vessel was bought by Sun Oil Company in 1902 and was converted to an oil tanker. In 1924 the ship was again sold, this time to F. L. Zimmerman and Company, who changed the ship's name to Kyzickes. It was to sail in the Mediterranean, but sank on its initial voyage under new registry when it was caught in a violent sea and floundered on a shoal off Kill Devil Hills. The force of the impact split the vessel in two and four men perished. Less than two years later, the Army used the hulk as target practice sending six Keystone airplanes to bomb the wreck. After the bombing the Carl Gerhard also floundered and collided with the Kyzickes creating the popular Triangle Wreck site.

Carl Gerhard
Carl Gerhard larger image (Photo Courtesy of NC Underwaer Archaeology Branch)
Carl Gerhard - The remains of this shipwreck are the other pieces that make up the Triangle Wreck located in Kill Devil Hills, NC. The 244-foot long ship was built in Larvik, Norway. The Swedish owned iron freighter was carrying 1,504 tons of plasterboard when it sank. Breeches buoy was used by the Coast Guardsmen to rescue all 22 crew members. In a ceremony in New York City, the Coast Guard was honored by the Swedish King for the heroism shown during the eventful rescue.

USS Huron - Built in Chester, PA in 1875, this schooner rigged, screw steamer was one of three iron ships to be constructed after the Civil War and was one of the last to combine steam and sail for propulsion and to use smoothbore ordnance. On November 23, 1877, Huron left Hampton Roads, VA for Havana, Cuba and on November 24, ran aground off of Nag's Head when she was caught in severe seas caused by a storm. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints the Life Saving Stations were shut down at the time and 98 men lost their lives. This tragic loss of life caused outrage by the American public. This outrage led to new legislation being passed that increased funding and the role of the government in protecting mariners.

Explorer - First investigated in 1986 by the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch, this exposed wreck, just 200 yards off the Nag's Head pier, is thought to be the tugboat, Explorer. The seagoing tug was built in Savannah, GA in1919. It was lost on December 12, 1919 while in tow and without cargo. It had a wooden hull, triple expansion engine, and lies in about 20 feet of water.

Oriental larger image (Photo Courtesy of ECU)
Oriental - Built in 1861 by Neafie and Levy Ship and Engine Building Company, Penn Works Shipyard in Philadelphia, PA, this ship was a steamer and Civil War Federal troop transport from 1861-1862. The ship ran aground in fog on May 16, 1862 with no loss of life. The wreck is only about 150 yards off the beach near the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge visitors center and part of its engine is visible above the water's surface.

Pocahontas larger image (Photo Courtesy of National Archives)
Pocahontas or USS Richmond - The wreck at this site has not been positively identified, but is thought to be either the Pocahontas or the Richmond. The Pocahontas was a wooden hulled sidewheeler built in 1829 by Beacham and Gardiner in Baltimore, MD. However, the engine on the shipwreck does not correlate to the engine on the Pocahontas. Local theory says that it is the USS Richmond, which was built in 1848 by Tod and McGregor Glasgow and home ported in New York. The ship may have been an American blockade runner at the time of her loss. The wreck is partially exposed and is in10-15 feet of water.

USS LST-471 larger image (Photo Courtesy of Naval Heritage Command)
USS LST-471 - This ship was built in Vancouver, WA and earned five battle stars during WWII in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. It was sold in January 1948 and was lost near Rodanthe, NC when it was on its way to be scrapped. It lies in about 15 feet of water.

USS LST-292 - Built in Ambridge, PA, the ship served in the European theater and earned one battle star during the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. It was lost on its way to be scrapped and lies in about 15 feet of water about 1.4 miles south of the Rodanthe pier.

Strathairly larger image (Photo Courtesy of Naval Heritage Command)
Strathairly - An iron cargo steamer built in 1876 in Middlesboro, United Kingdom by R. Dixon and Company. The ship operated between 1876 and 1891 as a tramp steamer with no regular route. It participated in English and Cuban iron trade and Chinese immigration. While in route from Santiago, Cuba to Baltimore with a load of iron ore, the Strathairly struck the Outer Banks and broke into two pieces. Known as the deadliest event recorded by the U.S. Life-Saving Service in the year 1891, 19 people lost their lives. The wreck site is located about 1.25 miles south of the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station. It sits just 160 yards from shore in 20-30 feet of water.

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