In 1996, Intersal continued search operations at Beaufort Inlet based on Phil Masters’ research.
Magnetometer survey and follow-up diving operations aboard Intersal vessel Pelican III began at Beaufort Inlet on November 11, 1996. Ten days later, the Intersal crew discovered the QAR site just over a mile off Bogue Banks, at a depth of twenty-two feet. The site lies almost due south of Ft. Macon, well within Intersal’s permit area. The identity of the site was confirmed by the number and size of the cannon and anchors exposed on the sand bottom, and by examination and dating of the various artifacts recovered.
The initial collection included a bronze bell inscribed with the date of 1705, the brass barrel of a blunderbuss (circa 1690-1710), a lead cannon apron, a lead sounding weight, and two iron cannonballs. Subsequent excavations have resulted in the recovery of thousands of artifacts, all supporting the conclusion that the wreck is QAR. They include: at least 24 iron cannon (one dated 1713) and some cannonballs; a small “signal” cannon (very likely fired at some point by Blackbeard himself); a coin weight with the likeness of Queen Anne on it; numerous pewter platters and plates, and one pewter medical syringe (which still contained traces of Mercury); some of the brass parts and accessories of a then-sophisticated surveying instrument; three intact onion-shaped wine bottles; tens of thousands lead musket-balls and mini-balls; a number of ceramic shards; hundreds of so-far unidentified conglomerations of material known as “encrusted objects” (“EOs”) or “concretions”; several surviving sections of the ship’s hull including its massive sternpost; trade beads, and a small quantity of gold fragments.
Phil Masters’ research on QAR – which followed up on research conducted by NC Maritime Museum Historian David Moore – indicates that when QAR and Adventure became stranded in June 1718, the pirates had sufficient opportunity to unload most, if not all, of the valuables aboard before abandoning the two vessels. Soon after QAR’s discovery, Intersal entered into discussions with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (DCR) on the future of the shipwreck.
On March 3, 1997 Intersai & DCR held a joint news conference in Raleigh at which then Governor Jim Hunt made the announcement of QAR’s discovery. The response was remarkable. Intersal representatives were interviewed by electronic and print media from across America, and from Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, South America and Australia. Pieces were seen and/or heard on Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Discovery, NPR, the BBC and many others. Stories were featured in People Magazine and in hundreds of newspapers across America, most prompted by articles appearing on the AP wire, in the New York Times, and in USA Today. There was considerable coverage in Great Britain, prompted by an article in the London Times.
In August 1998, 20 months after the initial discovery of QAR, Intersal signed a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) with DCR. In 2013, Intersal, Nautilus Productions and DCR entered into the QAR Settlement Agreement; by which Intersal has rights to all commercial narrative accounts of the QAR Project, and the right to make both limited edition and collectable replicas of QAR Artifacts.