"The Ghost Ship" Frederick Walton

When so many submerged cultural sites exist in a geographical area the size of North Carolina, the identification of so many wrecks can become clouded by folklore and inadequate research practices. Even in today's age of "knowledge", a vast number of mysteries still exist in the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

During World War I & II, the German U-boat records were accurate and precise, while the U.S. Government struggled with the new threat the German submarines brought to the East Coast of America. Even after 70 years, the U.S. records are vague and incomplete, which feeds the mysteries to this day.

S. S. Ario
S. S. Ario
S. S.  Ario
S. S. Ario
W. E. Hutton
W. E. Hutton
W.E. Hutton
W.E. Hutton
S.S. Papoose
S.S. Papoose

Unknown Wreck or the "Ghost Ship" site,


Update: 15 Oct 2008 The Cofferdam Is Installed!

Now that the cofferdam is installed, we can work on the site without the danger of cave-in from the surrounding walls. A third test hole has been completed yielding the broken pieces of another huge "masthead light" lantern globe. We have also discovered evidence of tremendous structural damage to the bows of the wreck. Also, the huge windlass, discovered last summer, has been excavated. Photos and video are coming soon!!!


Update: 15 Oct 2007 Artifacts Are Still Coming Up!



This summer season yielded many diagnostic artifacts including fully intact lantern chimneys and brass wick holders and a fully intact blue-green lens for the starboard bow navigation light. It looks like brand new! 

Update: 1 June 2006:

Excavation Continues... We Begin To See Artifacts!


In what we believe could be the bow section, we recovered shards of clear glass, several brass fasteners or spikes (called "copper" in early shipbuilding) and SIDCO Diver Rob Covey recovered this beautiful, hand-made, lead sounding weight, personalized with the makers initials!

Update: June 2004

Ground Truthing: Excavation begins!

4,5, and 6-  During the week of June 23-27, We began our excavation efforts to identify the sunken vessel at site 0003OKI. Using the donated bulkheading material (see below), we built a mini-cofferdam over the site of Target #01 at what appears to be the port bow of the wreck. The excavation is continuing as we have reached the depth of 7 feet and have run into framing timbers covering a large iron target. We will continue to excavate through the summer season and try to find a defining artifact that will identify this wreck.


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Update: May 2004

See Below!

 Many, many thanks to Crane Materials international, inc. and dare building supply  for the donation of the c-loctm cofferdam material we will be using to excavate this site!


Update: April 2004

See Below!

Our initial work on this site will be mostly non-intrusive. We will conduct a Gradiometer survey, in the same manner as the work on QAR, in 1999 (see the Blackbeard's QAR page of this site). Not only will this give us the parameters of the site (length and width), but using iron core datum markers as reference points during the survey will give us the size as well as provenience location of each artifact. In essence, it will "draw" a magnetic site map for us, giving us a much more accurate drawn site map and at the same time, it will show us the original location of any artifact disturbed during whatever excavation we decide to do. We can conduct this survey and gather a huge amount of information about the original ship, without uncovering the sand that protects the site from marine organisms, weather and looting.


In the graphic above (we apologize for the size of the download, but clarity is a must!) you can see the 3OKI site laid out with our mapping datum stakes on the base line 0-220 (bottom of picture) running west and east, and the transect lines (vertical) 0-100 running north and south. Each artifact has a positive and negative pole, just like a bar magnet. The scale at right shows the intensity of each pole and the biggest concentration of iron materials. The "datum" stakes, which are iron, are seen in blue at 0 feet, 75 feet, and 150 feet. These are blue only because they are standing upright. Notice also the artifact at 85' X 100', seen in deep red, which is also standing up right. The artifact group at 120' X 20' will be our primary focus and testing area. This "magnetic" site map tells us more about this wreck than any other method and all without moving a single grain of protective sand and sediment!


Update: August 2003

see below!


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Dwight Burrus of Hatteras Village operating Burrus Flying Service,  has been flying air tours over Hatteras, Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands for the last ten years and on one particular day in August 2002 when both the weather and water were clear, he spotted what he thought might be the darkened outline of a shipwreck. After confirming his find with historian and author Drew Pullen, also of Hatteras, they then contacted our officers with the news. Drew is a long time supporter and advocate for SIDCO, and he asked us to investigate. We sprung into action, first sending an advance party of divers to do a visual search. Meanwhile we assembled the rest of the team and prepared our electronic detection equipment, including the Schonstedt Instruments GAU-30 marine magnetometer/ gradiometer that we used to survey the Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge site in 1999. Our VP, Dave Pope led a team of 12 divers, conservators and boat crew members to the site.

 1- Aerial Photos of chemical outline or "shadow" of the sunken vessel. This outline or signature is not discernable on the site itself. Our teams had to use magnetometers and metal detectors to ground truth the wreck.


2- Vice President of SIDCo, Dave Pope ground truths the 0003OKI or "Ghost Ship" site with our MineLab Excalibur handheld metal detector. The site is undetectable with out electronic help and is completely buried below the surrounding shoals. 


   3- Even working in the dead of winter, we continued the electronic survey in hope of completing the gradiometer map before the summer excavation begins. Bundled up against the cold, Dave Pope continues the survey work.