Very Local History: Stuff in the Water


Midmost Coast podcast episode 020 | Very Local History: Stuff in the Water

Shipwrecks. Rocket engines. U-boats. Atom bombs. Regular bombs. There’s a lot of stuff in the water off the Carolina coast and beyond, and we talk about them in this episode.

We check in on Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge to make sure it’s still there, kick the tires on some World War II practice bombs, find out what a Q-ship is, and talk about so many military shipwrecks.

Show Summary


  • Stuff on the Water: A Water Log

Queen Anne’s Revenge in the News

  • Has been confirmed for several years
  • Was accidentally sunk by Blackbeard
  • Blackbeard lost another ship trying to recover it
  • The state of NC is in a legal battle over the copyright status of wreck media

The SS Central America

  • Known as the ship of gold
  • “Hurricane 2” hits in 1857, 425 lost
  • Math is used to find the wreck
  • People go crazy over the gold, legal wrangling ensues

The Condor

  • Off Fort Fisher, is becoming a historic dive site
  • Was a Confederate blockade runner
  • A spy aboard scrambled off the vessel with gold sewn into her clothes
  • Her vessel capsized and she died, the only casualty

The Mighty Fanny

  • World’s first aircraft carrier?
  • Fought to take Hatteras Island during the Civil War
  • CSA flotilla takes Chicamacomico, promptly loses it
  • The Fanny is scuttled near Elizabeth City

Richmond Class Ironclads

  • Confederate ironclads
  • They were of poor quality
  • CSS Raleigh and CSS North Carolina
  • The CSS North Carolina sinks due to being of poor quality in 1864
  • William F Lynch decides to engage the Union Blockade squadron at New Inlet with the CSS Raleigh
  • This goes poorly, ship is grounded

USS Louisiana

  • Crazy plan to fill a ship with gunpowder, point it at Fort Fisher
  • Despite objection from an engineer, the plan is carried out
  • Ship explodes, fort remains

USS Schurz

  • World War I: Schurz versus skins
  • SMS Geier, briefly teams up with the Emden
  • The Geier is interned in Hawaii by the US, renamed the Schurz and entered into the war
  • Heads to Charleston via the Panama Canal
  • Is rammed off Cape Lookout, sinks

World War II Test Bombs Found

  • Probably inert, but be careful
  • Fairly common for old explosives to be found in the water
  • Scallop trawler in 1965 pulled up a live torpedo and killed all hands

The Tricky Q-Ship

  • The USS Atik is converted to a Q-ship during World War II
  • Loaded with concealed cannons, loaded with pulp wood in March 1942
  • SS Carolyn to her friends, SS Vill Franca in the streets
  • U-123, under Rheinhard Hardegen, hits the Atik, takes the bait
  • The trap is sprung, but not to great effect
  • The ship then explodes of its own accord
  • Now lies offshore near Hatteras


  • Found in 2014
  • Was a wounded german submarine
  • Encountered a fleet and opened fire
  • Sunk along with a merchant vessel in 1942 in the Outer Banks

Cape Fear River Shipwreck

  • It is a “battle ship” not a battleship
  • The Patrol Craft 1084 was bought post-World War II by the owner of Reece’s Landing
  • Was towed to join the festivities on the water in Fayetteville
  • Ran aground and could not be loosened

Wilmington’s Historic Shipwreck District

  • Survey of river wrecks in 1983
  • Cannon found during River Road excavation

More Stuff in the Water

  • The 1958 Tybee Island mid-air collision drops a nuclear bomb off of the Georgia coast
  • The Titanic wreck located in 1985 during the search for a nuclear submarine
  • Jeff Bezos spearheads the effort to recover Apollo mission F-1 engines from the Saturn V


  • What does U-boat stand for?
  • The total eclipse is coming
  • Eclipse miniepisode?
  • The Lieutenant Dan of ignored military engineers


Wilmington’s Historic Shipwreck District

Shipwrecks of the Carolinas


National Geographic discusses the confirmation of the wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s ship lost near Beaufort, NC.

Sunken Confederate blockade runner Condor is becoming easier to explore for divers.

Island Free Press covers the new island near Hatteras.

Mystery wreck found off NC coast in 2015.

North Carolina shipwrecks.

Wikipedia article on the SMS Geier.

How do you pronounce “Chicamacomico“?

Stars and Stripes Magazine discusses the World War II-era munitions found on the beaches of Hatteras, NC.

A blog is the best source I could find for the backstory on the “battle ship” on the Cape Fear River near Fayetteville: Patrol Craft 1084.

The Fayetteville Observer confirms the general details of the story of the shipwreck.

“Fate unknown.” Partial information on the ship sticking out of the water near Fayetteville.

Image of the Patrol Craft 1084.

National Geographic published a map in 1970 of the North Carolina “Ghost Fleet.”

CNN covers the German U-boat (U-576) wreck found in 2014 alongside another vessel.

Live Science gives a little more information on imaging of this wreck.

Find out more about the Wilmington Historic Shipwreck District.

Addendum on the Wilmington Historic District (PDF link warning)

An 18th century cannon was unearthed in Wilmington, NC, in 2016.

Find out more about “Torpedo Alley” on Wikipedia.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.

Midmost Coast has previously talked about the shipbuilding industry out of the local area in “The Shipbuilding Epoch” episode, and also touched on some activity during the Civil War in “Bizarro Wilmington”.

NPR talks about the watery grave of a nuclear bomb.

CBS examines the risks of not recovering a lost hydrogen bomb.

The New York Times breaks the news of the Titanic wreck discovery in 1985.

But there is more to the Titanic discovery story.

What is Jeff Bezos up to in the Atlantic Ocean?

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