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The wreck of Christopher Columbus‘s ship has been found off the coast of Haiti.
The Santa Maria is thought to have sunk during Columbus’s first journey to the Americas in around 1492.
The wreck has been confirmed by underwater researchers and local historians, who say it is very likely to be the Santa Maria. It had long since been left to ruin in the deep waters, even though the whereabouts of the ship were thought to have been known. Now the team of investigators who think they have located the ship want to return and do more research in the area.
Barry Clifford is the expedition’s leader and he says that all the evidence points to the fact that it is the Santa Maria. The Haitian government has been working closely with the expedition team and if recovered says it wants to preserve the ship and one day have it on display in a museum.
The team has been mapping and taking photographs of the underwater site, but now if they return want to dive to actually take samples and artefacts so that they can be analysed.
An expedition to the ship took place in 2003 and found a cannon and some other items, but could not bring them to the surface. But when Barry and his team returned to the site more recently they said that the cannon and other items had been removed. It is thought that looters might have already gotten to the site.
Barry and his team still believe it is worthwhile returning to see what they recover as it is unlikely that looters would have been able to take everything. Barry says that they will then, once and for all be able to identify whether or not it is the Santa Maria.
The ballast stones, size and design of the ship all suggest that it is Columbus’s ship. Also Columbus’s diary relates directly to the position at which the wreck lays. There is a fort built on nearby coastal land that is also thought to have been built using wood from the Santa Maria’s wreckage at the time that she sank, the Catholic Online reports.
It was Columbus who ordered for as much of the wreck to be rescued so that the fort could be built and in which crewmen could live.
At the time, Columbus returned to Spain reporting that he had found a lucrative trade route to Asia. But when he returned the crewmen he had left behind were missing and the fort had been set on fire.
If Barry and his team do return and successfully identify the wreck as the Santa Maria, it could be one of the most significant discoveries in the past hundred years.