World

Shipwreck found 8ft underwater in Antigua may be 18th-century naval ship used in Revolutionary War 

Archaeologists in Antigua have uncovered what they consider to be the shipwreck of a 18th-century French warship that was used by American colonists in the Revolutionary War.

Their concept is that it is the stays of the Beaumont, a 990-ton French ship constructed in 1762. 

The boat was resting in the muck on the backside of Tank Bay, simply eight ft underneath the floor.

A hydrographic survey of the Nelson’s Dockyard a number of years in the past first tipped researchers off {that a} vessel was mired in the seabed.

More just lately, diver Maurice Belgrave reported seeing the massive ‘rib’ of a ship on the backside of the bay.

But it wasn’t till final week that archaeologists confirmed the wreck was greater than 130 ft lengthy and matched the specs of the 18th century French naval vessel. 

If the archaeologists are right in their evaluation, it could be the one shipwreck with an intact hull constructed by the French East India Company, based on the Antigua Observer

A wreck positioned simply eight ft under the floor in Antigua’s English Harbour matches the outline of the Beaumont, a 1762 warship that was later bought off and used in the course of the American Revolution

Chartered by King Louis XIV in 1664, the French East India Company was supposed to compete with the English and Dutch buying and selling firms working in Southeast Asia.

As an imperial service provider ship supposed to journey from France to areas in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Beaumont would have been closely armed, National Parks Authority archaeologist Christopher Waters instructed the Observer.

The Beaumont solely served France for 2 years, although, earlier than it was bought off to an unknown personal particular person and renamed the Lyon.

At some level after, the Lyon was used by colonists in the course of the American Revolution till it was captured off the coast of Virginia by the HMS Maidstone, a British naval ship.

Timbers from the shipwreck believed to be the Lyon. Analysis of the wood will help nail down the shidetermine when and where it was cut

Pictured: Timbers from the shipwreck believed to be the Lyon. Analysis of the wooden will assist decide when and the place it was reduce, providing extra clues in regards to the ship’s identification

What occurred to the ship after that’s cloudy, although a vessel matching the Lyon’s description was listed in a 1780 map of Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua’s English Harbor.

‘We understand it was introduced right here,’ Waters mentioned. ‘We simply do not know what occurred to it. But it was very badly broken and doubtless by no means left English Harbor once more.’

Waters says proof for the ship being the Lyon is ‘compelling,’ if solely circumstantial.

‘The undeniable fact that it is large is extremely particular and distinctive in itself. Most wreck websites are small service provider ships,’ he instructed the paper.

If the ship is indeed the Lyon, it would be the only shipwreck with an intact hull built by the French East India Company, chartered by King Louis XIV in 1664 to compete with the English and Dutch East India Companies

If the ship is certainly the Lyon, it could be the one shipwreck with an intact hull constructed by the French East India Company, chartered by King Louis XIV in 1664 to compete with the English and Dutch East India Companies

He in contrast the wreck to the Mary Rose—a British warship lost in the mid-Sixteenth century and found close to the Isle of Wight in 1971—’in phrases of its measurement and the tales we may be in a position to inform of it.’

Pleasure ships and fishing boats have sailed proper over the wreck in Nelson’s Dockyard for greater than 200 years.

The mud that stored it hidden additionally helped to protect it, the Observer reported.

‘It’s superb it might have lain there undiscovered for therefore lengthy. I’ve snorkeled on the market many occasions, used sonar gear and missed it each single time,’ Waters mentioned.

But over a six-day expedition final week, a staff led by University of the Antilles archaeologist Jean-Sebastien Guibert used side-scan sonar and a magnetometer to find the wreck described by Belgrave.

The hull they found, now marked off by orange buoys, is actually large enough to be the Lyon, Guibert instructed the Observer.

‘I’ve been working in the French West Indies for 15 years and it is the most important wreck I’ve ever seen,’ he mentioned. ‘I didn’t anticipate it to be so huge.’ 

The wreck in Antigua's English Harbour is marked off by a series of orange buoys

The wreck in Antigua’s English Harbour is marked off by a sequence of orange buoys

The researchers first centered on figuring out the wreck’s dimensions to see in the event that they aligned with the Lyon.

Next they’ll analyze timber from the ship to determine the place and when it was reduce.

Only wooden and ballast have been found thus far—it is possible the ship was stripped of any invaluable gear or artifacts earlier than it sank or was deliberately sunk.

‘There’s no gold, I promise you,’ Waters mentioned in an accompanying video.

Besides its measurement, there are a number of different factors in favor of the wreck being the Beaumont, aka the Lyon.

In addition to the map putting a French vessel in the harbor, there aren’t any information of a British ship in the dockyards at the moment.

‘The British had been excellent at protecting information about what occurred on the dockyard and we’ve not found something regarding it,’ Waters mentioned. ‘So it is a huge risk it is not British however one thing else.’

Joining Guibert and Waters on the mission had been hyperbaric operations chief Guy Lanoix, shipbuilding researcher Hélène Botcazou, diver Gilbert Labonne, surveyor Gilbert Pachoud and captain Olivier Beauroy Eustache, in addition to Dave Martin of ABSAR and Desley Gardner from Antigua and Barbuda National Parks. 

The expedition was a collaboration between the University of the French West Indies (AIHP GEODE), the Antigua and Barbuda National Parks, and supported by Antigua & Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)

Funding got here from the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, and the Overseas Martinique Convergence Contract, with assist from ABSAR, the Antigua and Barbuda National Parks, and Soul Immersion Dive Shop.

Back to top button