4300 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, sonar discovered an object. What scientists believed to be a ship was measured at 84 feet long, 26 feet wide, and appeared to have two masts. The ship’s revelation is significant because of the rare find of such a vessel in the gulf, and the fact that it is approximately 200 years old. Two other ships were located nearby, and are believed to have gone down at the same time.
They are believed to have sunk around the end of our country’s colonial period, as trade from around the world began in the gulf.
“What you’re going to see and hear I hope will blow your mind. Because it has ours,” Texas lead investigator Fritz Hanselmann told reporters at a Thursday news conference in which the team revealed its initial findings.
“We went out with a lot of questions and we returned with even more. The big question we’re all asking is: What is the shipwreck? And the answer is we still don’t know,” said Hanselmann.
“We’ve journeyed 170 miles off the coast of Texas to explore this unique shipwreck,” explained Hanselmann. “We will spend five days conducting operations around the clock to map and document the wreck in exacting detail, to excavate target areas of artifacts, and bring them to the surface for in-depth study that will provide diagnostic information and allow us to discover the vessel’s age, function, nationality, and identity.”
Eight days of exploration ended last Wednesday. Using robotic devices, they removed some 60 items, including musket parts, ceramic dishes, clothing, liquor bottles, and even a tootbrush.
The items came from Britain, Mexico, and Canada.
Theories about the vessels vary. Some believe they belonged to privateers, or were ships hired by governments to act as such.
The excavation and recovery is a major collaboration between The Meadows Center, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Texas Historical Commission, the University of Rhode Island and the Ocean Exploration Trust. The expedition will be working out of National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence Robert Ballard’s E/V Nautilus to uncover the mysteries of the shipwreck.
Scientists are eager to discover whatever revelations a rare hundreds years old vessel has waiting for them at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
Alfred James reporting