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University scientists discover possible 18th century shipwreck

By Andrew V. Pestano
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University scientists discover possible 18th century shipwreck
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research ship Atlantis and its manned submersible craft Alvin hanging off its stern. A team of university scientists recently discovered a shipwreck by using sonar off the coast of North Carolina that could date back up to the Revolutionary War. Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) -- A team of university scientists used sonar to discover a shipwreck that could date back to the Revolutionary War off the coast of North Carolina.

Iron chains, red bricks, glass bottles, an unglazed pottery jug and navigational equipment, including a metal compass, were among the items found in the wreck.

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The discovery was announced on Friday by a team of marine scientists from Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of Oregon who were aboard the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) research ship Atlantis.

"They spotted the wreck while using WHOI's robotic autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry and the manned submersible Alvin," the team said in a statement. "The wreck appears to date back to the late 18th or early 19th century, a time when a young United States was expanding its trade with the rest of the world by sea."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will attempt to identify the ship, its origin and age.

"This is an exciting find, and a vivid reminder that even with major advances in our ability to access and explore the ocean, the deep sea holds its secrets close," expedition leader Cindy Van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory, said. "I have led four previous expeditions to this site, each aided by submersible research technology to explore the sea floor... It's ironic to think we were exploring within 100 meters of the wreck site without an inkling it was there."

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