Update by Della Scott-Ireton, FPAN
Last night the first big artifact was retrieved from the shipwreck site. The cannon, lodged against the starboard side of the shipwreck, was rigged with slings, lifted from the bottom, and hauled to the deck of Toisa Vigilant. The cannon was concreted to the seafloor from 200 years of immersion in salt water but came loose without too much trouble. A thick crust of concretion product, caused by the metal corroding and breaking down, encases the cannon. This will be cleaned off in the lab and we’ll see how much of the original metal is left. Iron artifacts require long periods of conservation and continual maintenance to preserve them and, in fact, archaeologists often decide to leave large iron objects like cannons and anchors in place on shipwreck sites.
The Mardi Gras Shipwreck cannon was safely brought on-deck by the combined efforts of the ROV pilots, winch and crane operators, and deck crew. The cannon currently is wrapped in layers of foam padding, fabric, and plastic which will protect it on its journey to Texas A&M while keeping it wet so it doesn’t begin to deteriorate. The successful recovery of the cannon made MMS senior archaeologist Dr. Jack Irion very happy.