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Christopher Columbus’ Flag Ship, Santa Maria May Have Been Found

Christopher Columbus Map of the 1492 wreck of Santa Maria
Santa Maria may have been found off the coast of Haiti

Christopher Columbs’ Santa Maria may have been found off the north coast of Haiti (www.independent.co.uk)

The Niña, The Pinta,.and where’s the Santa Maria? The ship that has been lost for over 500 years may have been found off the north  Haitian coast where it was originally thought to have wrecked.

The discovery has been made by undersea explorer Barry Clifford.

In an interview with NPR Clifford said, “All the geographical, underwater topography, and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria.”

According to NPR, Clifford is a well known wreck hunter who also found the pirate ship and slave vessel the Whydah, which sank off the coast of Cape Cod in 1717.

The Santa Maria sank in 1492 off the coast of Haiti after hitting reefs around Christmas time.

The ship had just arrived from Spain a few months earlier and its believed that after the wreck Columbus ordered the timbers to be stripped from the ships to make a fort on land near the shore.

According to archeological correspondent David Keys from The Independent the main problem today as opposed to those  faced in 2003, when Clifford had previously located the wreck and taken pictures of canons is that, “all the key visible diagnostic objects including the canon had been looted by illicit raiders,” making it harder to verify the wrecks identity.

Professor Charles Beeker, who directs the Office of Underwater Science at the University of Indiana, also comments that there’s “some very compelling evidence” but that a thorough archaeological excavation is a must.

The evidence so far is substantial and the wreck is in the right location according to Christopher Columbus’ diary in proximity to the fort.

It’s a current re-examination of certain underwater photographs combined with recent reconnaissance dives on the site that have allowed Clifford to tentatively identify this wreck as the Santa Maria.

Clifford stated, “If excavations go well and depending on the state of preservation of any buried timber, it might ultimately possible to lift any surviving remains of the vessel, fully conserve them and then put them on permanent public exhibition in a Haitian museum.”

If this were to happen, it might prove monumental in helping the Haiti’s tourism industry.


Matt Robertson obtained a BA in History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MA in Museum Studies from Morgan State University in Baltimore. Robertson's a major sports enthusiast, avid golfer, passionate Jets fan and enjoys surfing. He's also a talented barista. Follow him on Facebook/MattRobertson and on Instagram @gingerbeardedbarista.

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  • William June 26, 2014

    Wow that would be an amazing discovery. Many years since the Spaniards become the first europeans to discover the Americas (the lands we know as North, Central and South America). It would be interesting when the archaeologists start to dig it up to find the rest of the remains of the ship.