Billy Ray Norris – Blockade Runners

Monthly Meeting Report – April, 2013 
 
Our April speaker was Billy Ray Morris, the new director of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Unit. Morris grew up on Carolina Beach and has degrees from both UNCW and ECU. He has spent his career exploring underwater wrecks around the world, but especially along the Virginia, North Carolina and Florida coasts.

Billy Ray Morris discussed the ongoing re-examination and interpretation of the maritime aspects of the Fort Fisher campaign.

His program included pictures of many of the blockade runners which were wrecked in our local waters. He said these ships were among the most sophisticated on the seas. A percent of every load was dedicated to war material, but many consumer goods and finery were also carried from Europe.

The wreck of the Modern Greece was the first explored, and the Underwater Archaeology Unit was established at Fort Fisher to deal with the artifacts recovered from that ship. The Unit will begin an exhaustive re-mapping project on all the Civil War era wrecks this summer.

In 2012 Morris was appointed Deputy State Archaeologist to direct and supervise all aspects of the North Carolina maritime archaeology program including the Queen Anne’s Revenge Project, and ongoing research and protection of shipwrecks of all types including Civil War blockade runners, merchant vessels, locally-built sail and steam-powered fishing and river boats.