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Retrieval of heavy cannons from Blackbeard ship likely delayed

The retrieval of cannons from what’s believed to be the flagship of the infamous pirate Blackbeard will probably be delayed because of the lack of an adequate lifting vessel.

Divers with the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project say they may have to wait until spring to get the cannons rather than this fall, as they’d planned.

They’ve also determined that the ship’s 2,600-pound sternpost needs to come up at the same time as the cannons, and an archaeology lab in Greenville is not quite ready for the artifacts, said Chris Southerly, project archaeologist.

The cannons can weigh between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds, depending on how much concretion has attached to the weapons, he said. Smaller cannons pulled from the shipwreck have weighed between 800 and 1,000 pounds.

Project officials said at the beginning of the six-week dive on Oct. 2 that they planned to recover up to four cannons this fall.

Blackbeard, whose real name was widely believed to be Edward Teach or Thatch, was tracked down at Ocracoke Inlet by volunteers from the Royal Navy and killed in a battle on Nov. 22, 1718. The Queen Anne’s Revenge is believed to have sunk the same year.

The ship, discovered in November 1996, is the oldest shipwreck found off the North Carolina coast.