After 500 years, archaeologists believe that they have found the wreck of the Santa Maria — Christopher Columbus’ flagship — at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. The leader of the expedition, Barry Clifford, told The Independent that all the evidence “strong suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria.”
Anyone who paid attention during elementary school knows that Christopher Columbus took three ships and sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and ‘discovered’ America: The Niña, the Pinta and Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria. Most of us probably forgot what happened to those ships though. The Niña and Pinta made it back to Spain. The Santa Maria never did.
How did they find it after all these years? The archaeologists had the help of other discoveries that located the site of Columbus’ fort and used information from Columbus’ journal to narrow down where the wreck of the Santa Maria should be. And it’s perfect: the wreck that they found is exactly the spot where Columbus wrote it was, relative to his fort.
The site is also an exact match in terms of historical knowledge about the underwater topography associated with the loss of the Santa Maria. The local currents are also consistent with what is known historically about the way the vessel drifted immediately prior to its demise.
Even more, the size of the wreck now is pretty much what you would expect to see knowing the size of the Santa Maria. Basically, this shipwreck is either the Santa Maria or some damn near identical twin ship.
The plan now is to excavate the wreck and hopefully lift it out to conserve it and put it on display in a museum in Haiti. If this is Columbus’ ship, Clifford told The Independent that it will be the “first ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America.”