Mysterious shipwreck found near Galveston hauled into port

July 25, 2013 1:48:13 PM PDT
Marine archaeologists are excited by the discovery of what may be a 200-year-old well-preserved shipwreck some 170 miles off the coast of Galveston.

It's about 4,300 feet below the surface. Researchers led by a team from Texas State University in San Marcos called it the deepest shipwreck that archaeologists have systematically investigated in the Gulf of Mexico and in North America.

They also described the remains as "tantalizing" because of the degree of preservation.

A Shell Oil Co. survey crew detected the remains in 2011.

The depth of the shipwreck prevents divers from exploring it, so researchers this week have been using remote-controlled undersea vehicles to examine it.

The shipwreck is believed to be from around the late 1700s or early 1800s. Objects from the wreckage were brought ashore on Thursday in five-gallon tubs with labels.

Researchers say they found about 60 artifacts, ranging from beer bottles to compasses to three British muskets and more.

"We also have an octant, sand clocks that they used to tell time on the ship, so there are a number of things that are extremely fragile, especially three muskets that we recovered," said Fritz Hanselman with Texas State University. "They appeared to be British muskets. The wood is largely intact. The barrels are largely gone, but we were able to get diagnostic information from those guns themselves and those are probably some of the most fragile artifacts we've recovered."

The theory is this may have been a privateer vessel. Some wonder if it was a pirate ship. Researchers are expected to reveal the artifacts at a press conference later today.

The researchers say they also discovered two more shipwrecks during the excavation, so they're now trying to determine if all three wreckage sites are related.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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