Wreck off coast of Haiti may be Columbus’s flag ship

| 18/05/2014

(CNS): As Cayman celebrates Discovery Day, some five centuries after Christopher Columbus allegedly spotted the islands archaeologists believe they may have identified the explorer’s flagship, the Santa Maria. Wrecked in the Caribbean, investigators think the vessel’s long-lost remains are lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. The experts say that the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, following a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site.The wreck is one that archaeologists have known about for some time but it was other discoveries that have led them to believe that it could very well be the remains of the Santa Maria.

Other archaeologists have suggested the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with information about the fort, one of the USA’s topunderwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.

Clifford, known for discovering a pirate ship off Cape Cod in 1984, said another factor is the location of the wreckage, in about 15 feet of water near where the crew of the Santa Maria is thought to have built a coastal settlement for crew members of the ship who were left behind after the sinking.

"The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming," Clifford said. He said that he and his son, Brandon, first explored the site and took photos in 2003. They decided to publicize their findings after a follow-up dive and examination of the photos led them to conclude they may have found the Santa Maria.

Clifford, whose exploration of the site is being backed by the History Channel, says he has asked the Haitian government to preserve the area around the wreck. "The next step is a careful, thorough and timely excavation," he said. The Haitian government, he added, had been very helpful and experts were continuing the work to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck. So far the team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.

Salim Succar, a special adviser to Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, said the government will do "all that is needed" to protect the site "while deciding on the best options to feature this discovery."

If the ship is the Santa Maria, it would be the oldest known European shipwreck in the so-called New World and a find of major archaeological significance. But scientists say it's far too early to make any such declaration especially since there is likely to be very little left of the vessel. The ship sank slowly in 1492 and the crew had time to strip it and remove valuable items that would help document the identity of the vessel.

Much, if not all, of the ship's timbers would have broken down or been cosumed by a species of wood-consuming mollusc found in the tropical waters — if it hadn't been carted away by crew members who were left behind and never heard from again.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Chinese maps show three islands hundreds of years before Columbus claimed that he found us!

  2. Knot S Smart says:

    Who is Columbus again?

    Is he related to Colombus, Ohio?…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wooooww! And all now we cant find MH370! 

  4. Unison says:

    Please I would like to see pictures of the wreck remains and a map of the site.

    This is a great discovery. The Santa Maria, translated Holy Mary, being the largest of his three ships, was more than likely the one ship he commanded the vessels from. In 1503 he spotted the Cayman Islands and called the islands Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles seen swimming in the surrounding waters. It is interesting that "The Holy Mary" sank exactly on Christmas Day and Christopher Columbas used her timber to help build the settlement of La Navidad in Haiti.

    When he spotted the Cayman Islands, it is said Columbas was familiar with Psalms 24:1-6, which reads,  

    "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah." – King James Version.

    It is said he quoted the phrase "he [God] hath founded it upon the seas" to apply to the Cayman Islands. Today the phrase is in our Coat of Arms. Interestingly it reads after the biblical phrase, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…" You hear certain of our leaders saying they have "clean hands, and a pure heart." I say this with a bit of humor, it further states, "who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."  It seems to me that Christopher, a devouted Catholic was inspired by God to use this passage of scripture which would reflect on our generations to come:

    If we seek God and seek his face, we shall be bless and receive his righteousness. It is a shame that some have distorted and use this beautiful passage for political gain and advantage. I tell you God is not sleeping. Let us pray that God will rise up true leaders for this country with "clean hands, and a pure heart." It seems like our very political and economic existence is depended on this scriptural passage.

    • Whodatis says:

      (The following is not a personal attack and you have every right to your personal opinion.)

      There are many interesting bits of your post however this one stood out to me most of all:

      "It seems to me that Christopher, a devouted Catholic was inspired by God to use this passage of scripture which would reflect on our generations to come:"

      May I remind the room that Columbus was a murderous, genocidal, pro-slavery, opportunist creep of a man.

      If anything at all, Christopher was inspired by the devil – and personal gain of course. He and the rest of his piratic European colleagues and competitors of his era.

      His legacy ought to be condemned – not celebrated.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think God does works by divine providence through people of questionable character. He's God!  Who is to say He can't work through sinners?  

      • Anonymous says:


      • Unison says:

        Indeed we can't deny he was accused of torturing and killing many natives. He was no saint. However, I will say whether he was inspired by God (at times) or not inspired by God one thing is for sure, Columbus it must have been God's plan to place the Cayman Islands on the map. As well God used a man like him to spread Christianity to the new world. I go by the principle that from something bad always good comes out it. 😉  

        • Whodatis says:

          If that what followed the "discovery" of the "New World" was God's plan or the blessing of Jesus Christ / Christianity … then it begs the question: "Is that faith a good one to follow?".

          I have 400+ years of ancestors that would suggest to you that their inhumane suffering could be nothing short of the devil's work.

          • Unison says:

            Whodatis, do you see all Christians honoring Christopher Columbas as a saint?  Do you see the Catholic Churchhonoring him as a saint?  No. He is not declared a Saint worldwide by the Mother of all churches. In speaking about him I used "devoted Catholic" because that was the profession of his faith, and should have been the profession because there was really only one supreme church of his time and that church was Catholic.

            Did Columbus lived up to the profession of his faith?  No. Understand (read the New Testament carefully), in no way did Jesus taught that it was right for his followers to kill or harm another person… even Catholics have taught the solemn truth of not resisting evil whilst some of her members took matters in their own hands and went astrayed from Jesus's teachings. Columbas you could say was one of them.

            Did the Church call and ordained Columbas to preach the gospel?  Never. In speaking about the "spread of Christianity" in truth Christianity would have still spread without Columbas. Despite corrupt members, the "holiness" of the Church reflected in her other members continue to this day. But where do you see the corrupt members???  Either they died off or repented. 


      • trollinwhodatisforfun says:

        So how many indigenous Caymanians did he kill during his genocide?

      • Anonymous says:

        If you read the Bible you would find that "God" liked the odd bit of gratuitous murder and genocide . . .

      • Anonymous says:

        True, but this is often overlooked. It is normal for the side that destroys the others to write history to their liking. He was an sub-human animal who was hungry for wealth and power.

        Remember the "Black Death"? a myth created by the English to build support for their entering into the slave trade, not to save the souls of the poor natives of America, but to get in on the wealth that was being generated.

        Whats even worse, is the idiots here celebrate Columbus as if he was some hero.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can see it, although not much as it was in very shallow water and many storms have hit since, on BBC..they did a clip a couple of days back

  5. Anonymous says:

    All of "you armchair historians" should pop on down to the national Museum as the director there has a PhD in maritime industry, so just politely ask her!

    Your comments here show that you spent very little time actually studying our documents, history, facts, figures, and getting the real story.

    Next Wednesday, May 28 is "International Museum Day" why not head to Georgetown for some real historical information on your lunch hour? (Instead of guessing get the facts.)

    "The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows" -Sydney J. Harris

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cayman got its name from its shape early maps show this its a Caymans head.

    Any 3 grader from south america or Cuba will tell you this

    Whatever is printed in your history books is made up garbage like everything else

  7. Whodatis says:

    Good ol' Columbus! That legendary, pioneering discoverer … traversed the world amazingly finding formerly non-existent, albeit inhabited, countries … with map in hand!

    (You couldn't make this stuff up, lol!)

    Anyway, by now we all know that no place or people actually existed until a European made the "discovery".

    Commence "HIStory" shall we?


  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Anonymous says:

    Now maybe we can find out how this island got it's name!