Shipwreck off Haiti could be Columbus's Santa Maria, explorers say

MIAMI Tue May 13, 2014 1:33pm EDT

A replica of Christopher Columbus' caravel Santa Maria is shown in this circa 1892 handout photo provided by the United States Library of Congress on May 13, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Library of Congress/Handout via Reuters

A replica of Christopher Columbus' caravel Santa Maria is shown in this circa 1892 handout photo provided by the United States Library of Congress on May 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/U.S. Library of Congress/Handout via Reuters

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MIAMI (Reuters) - A shipwreck found off the north coast of Haiti could be the 500-year-old remains of the Santa Maria, which led Christopher Columbus's famed voyage to the New World, according to a team of marine explorers.

"All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus' famous flagship, the Santa Maria," Massachusetts marine investigator Barry Clifford said in a press release on Tuesday.

"I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first-ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus' discovery of America," he added.

Clifford, who led a reconnaissance expedition to the site, will hold a press conference Wednesday morning at the Explorer's Club in New York City to announce the discovery.

The Santa Maria was one of a fleet of three vessels that departed Spain in 1492 looking for a shorter route to Asia. The ship, after arriving near the Bahamas, drifted into a reef and had to be abandoned. Columbus ordered sailors to build a fort nearby before taking the remaining two ships back to Spain to report his findings.

Clifford and his team first discovered the wreck in 2003, but were unable to identify the ship. Yet the discovery of Columbus' encampment on nearby Haiti and data from the explorer's diary appear to prove the heavily decayed vessel on the sea floor was the Santa Maria.

(Editing by David Adams and James Dalgleish)

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Comments (2)
gcf1965 wrote:
What this article doesnt mention is if salvaged, they want to put it on display in a muesem… Haiti! Really, Haiti?

May 13, 2014 11:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
REnninga wrote:
Why NOT Haiti? Would you prefer that her remains be displayed at San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, where she made first landfall in ‘the New World’? Or how about Cuba?

Santa Maria never made landfall at what is now the United States (not even Columbus, Ohio. LOL), so she most certainly does not belong on display in the USA.

In fact, of Columbus’ four voyages to ‘the New World’, the closest he ever came to what is now the United States of America (“America” is named for Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, by the way, not Columbus), was his first voyage landing on the coast of Cuba, at a point approximately 250 – 300 miles south of the southern tip of mainland Florida. See the map:

Haiti is where Santa Maria wrecked, near Cap-Haïtien (Cape Haitien). Haiti is where her anchor already resides and is on prominent display in the “Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien”, and Haiti is where Columbus’ fort “La Navidad” (Christmas) was built from the stripped timbers of her wreck.

The cross Atlantic voyage of Santa Maria is a very important part of Haitian history. And the display of her remains, whatever little there may be, could be a boost to the Haitian tourism economy, which that nation sorely needs as it still struggles to recover from the devastating earthquake.

So you tell us, why do you think the remains of Santa Maria do not belong on display in a museum in Haiti, and where do you think her remains do belong?

May 13, 2014 3:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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